Vision launch: Bryan Robson OBE urges government and NHS to back treatment that saved his life

Football legend and radiotherapy patient Bryan Robson OBE urges Govt and NHS to adopt new 10-year plan for the treatment as cancer crisis persists

Bryan Robson OBE, has urged the NHS and Government to take immediate action on delivering a 10-year vision for radiotherapy to save the lives of cancer patients in the UK.

The former manager and player, who is the longest serving captain for Manchester United and made 461 appearances for the club, had surgery and radiotherapy back in 2012 for throat cancer. Since then he has been a devoted campaigner on behalf of cancer patients, and the treatment that saved him.

He said:

“Radiotherapy saved my life. It’s given me the priceless gift of time and memories with my friends and family. I strongly believe every UK cancer patient that needs radiotherapy should have access to a world-class service.

Decision makers choosing to invest in and support radiotherapy services across the UK will quite simply save lives. I want to live in a country with cancer services that are the envy of the world – and radiotherapy can play a major part. For the sake of cancer patients, I ask all of us to use our influence to make this 10-year vision a reality.”
Bryan Robson OBE
England and Manchester United football legend

The 10-year plan backed by Robson launches today (Tuesday, February 6) and is called World-class radiotherapy in the UK: Right Patient, Right Treatment, Right Time. It has been led by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy and contains evidence-based research by leading cancer experts, that could significantly cut waiting times for cancer patients and improve how long and how well patients live.

Recent NHS England data shows that 4 in 10 cancer patients are waiting longer than the recommended 62 days to start their first treatment. The 62-day treatment target was last achieved in 2015 in England, 2009 in Northern Ireland, 2012 in Scotland and 2010 in Wales.

Research shows that Radiotherapy is a lifesaving, cost-effective treatment needed in about 50% of cancer cases and in 40% of cancer cures.  Key recommendations outlined in the report include delivery of a new National Plan for Radiotherapy, equal access to high quality, personalised radiotherapy, an immediate plan to address the 600-person workforce shortfall and long-term investment in the data, technology and innovation that could rapidly improve patient outcomes and experience.

The report sets out how the UK currently lags behind other similar European countries.  Despite international estimates that 52 to 53% of UK cancer patients should receive radiotherapy, currently only 24 to 27% of patients in England do.

Access is highly variable, with several parts of the UK classed as radiotherapy ‘deserts’, with patients making long, expensive journeys for treatment.  The UK remains near the bottom of international tables for cancer survival and experts in the report warn that without clear planning and investment in radiotherapy, this is unlikely to improve.

“It’s time to realise the immense potential of radiotherapy by harnessing proven technical advances and innovation to improve patient outcomes. Let us prioritise this cost-effective and curative treatment, where a modest investment could yield a huge leap in progress. If we do this, the world will watch, and we will all be empowered.”
Professor Pat Price
Academic Clinical Oncologist at Imperial College London, Chair of Radiotherapy UK and co-founder of Catch Up With Cancer Campaign
“This 10 Year data-informed, research empowered, patient-centred plan for World Class Radiotherapy in the UK is urgently needed - it sets out a vision to deliver quality cancer care for patients right across the UK into the next decade.

We do not have a choice - if we don’t implement such a forward-thinking plan, we are letting down not only current cancer patients, but also the cancer patients of the future - they will not forgive us if we fail them. So let’s act. Now!”
Professor Mark Lawler
Professor of Digital Health at Queen’s University Belfast and Chair of the Lancet Oncology European Groundshot Commission.

The Vision will be launched at the House of Commons and Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have been invited to hear more from the authors and radiotherapy patients.

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