Has Cancer ‘Progress’ Peaked Now?

Since covid has entered our lives we seem to be living from day to day. Unable to really plan anything due to the way our world is changing so quickly. Even organising a meal out with friends is no longer straight forward! It seems like our actual lives are becoming like the reality of social-media. Every few minutes another subject takes the headlines and very quickly you can become distracted from your focus. For most of us, we must get used to adapting to all the new things we get asked to do. But if you are a ‘leader’ in the country, how do you go about your work?

Certainly not by ignoring all other healthcare, to focus entirely on the virus. Covid is very far from being the biggest killer in this country. With a recent week being broken down by the Mail Online showing that whilst covid killed 242 people, dementia, heart disease and cancer killed in excess of 3000 combined. I found it very interesting to find that reported virus deaths are easy to find, all other diseases are far from straight forward to establish. It feels to me that there is something very political going on here? Why is it so difficult to get transparent information about the biggest killers in this country?

Pie chart from Mail Online report.
Picture from Mail Online report

When we look back at the major decisions taken during the pandemic, I’m certain that we will see sacrificing most other healthcare was a massive mistake. I believe this option will ultimately cause more deaths in the longer term. We can already see dangerously high waiting lists, and difficulties actually getting appointments to see any healthcare professional. These backlogs will take many years to catch up, if at all. So many of us will have a poorer quality of life as a result.

With cancer numbers increasing, support plus finance decreasing, we will no doubt look at more temporary fixes. Without getting the foundations right it will be no good pouring more money in. This applies to the entire sector. Pharma, charity, NHS and Government must all improve their working relationships to ensure that this work produces results. Much like global collaboration got us the vaccine, proving it is possible!

Of course this will all take time, and there must be a desire for it to happen. What I am seeing now is many support services closing and research ceasing. Let’s not forget that the UK was never the greatest in cancer care, far from it in a lot of cases! Unfortunately it will now be many years before we can even get back to that level. Myself and industry experts believe that it will be at least 10 years before we will be back in the position we were, before the world changed. At that stage we were just about treading water, now we are fast flowing backwards.

According to our leaders we have been following the science. I don’t believe that to be true! Which scientists would advise us to leave alone conditions such as cancer and dementia? All of our NHS staff are doing their best but are totally rudderless. It seems like all senior healthcare leaders have abandoned ship. Not even speaking out in defence of their colleagues. GPs are struggling to cope and hospitals too. Frustration now showing from the general public. This is no way to run a caring service!

Of course we will all still see in the media, more wonderful things happening in the cancer world. Many of these make great headlines, but will rarely make any difference to any of us in our lifetimes. Large charities relevance is being questioned. What are they doing now? Certainly not telling us, yet very clear and concise with their fundraising messages. They have put no pressure on the Government during these difficult times. Barely have we heard a squeak. They may say that this is not their purpose, but in times of a National Crisis we should all be speaking out!

Graph of patients waiting for treatment in England

What we do now know is that we cannot continue the way we are. This total lack of action is killing more people daily, our friends and family. We will all know someone who is struggling to get the treatment they need at the time they need it. This should not be happening in the UK. We are now entering the times pre NHS when people who can afford it, get their treatment privately. The ones who can’t, continue to suffer. We built a service that would look after us all when we needed it. It no longer does that.

The media are now starting to see what is happening, as patients start to speak out. But we need professionals from inside the service to talk as well. I could not sit by and watch the pressure building on my colleagues knowing only too well that my powers to help people were being diminished daily. I feel as sorry for the staff as I do for us patients. But it is in their hands to help change things, despite being Government employees. ‘We are all in this together,’ as somebody famously once said.

This piece is not intended to scaremonger, but tell it as it is. My private messages are increasing daily with more stories of how broken the system is. As always these are my personal opinions based on my own experiences. Please feel free to share yours below.


  1. What stark figures depicting reality, yet nothing is done by government, big pharma… so depressing and I just feel so helpless.
    Thank you, Chris for continually knocking down these doors and tables through your writing and work

    • This situation is truly shocking Tochi. I will ensure that these issues are not forgotten, but it must be the people in authority that ultimately take action. Hard to believe that so many of the leaders within Cancer are so quiet??

  2. Hi Chris,

    Women in my cancer support group are starting to comment about the difficulty of getting to speak to a GP over the phone, let alone see one. The NHS claims patients are too worried about Covid to be seen, hence their #HelpUsHelpYou campaign, plus further TV ads to signal that they’re open and want patients to report symptoms & be seen.

    Basically, they’re blaming patients for failures in the system

    Best wishes to you & yours,

    Deb X

    • Hiya Deb,

      Yes the situation in Primary Care is getting very confused. Of course there has been lots of crazy publicity recently, but the truth of the matter is, it is becoming more difficult to see a GP. Just as patients realise they must get checked, they are told not to in many cases. As we both know this dreadful policy of total covid fixation will kill many more from other diseases.

      Overall our general quality of life is decreasing as this affects every aspect of our healthcare. Even more basic issues are taking longer and becoming more complex. I know for a fact of course that front line staff are as frustrated as we are. This needs the seniors to do something but where are they??

      I believe that this is a real scandal happening here, the true scale of which will not be established for many years.

      Very best to you and yours too Deb XXXX

  3. Chris your last point “This needs the seniors to do something but where are they?? is a recurring question on the lips of all cancer patients I’m afraid. My own medical needs are minor compared to most but I know if I had a serious cancer recurrence I would be very worried right now. I just wish we could elect someone with your vision as the nations minister for cancer. I cannot understand why our political leaders do not have your wisdom and empathy to deal with the cancer crisis instead of ignoring it. Surely we should be holding them to account.


    • Hi Dianne,

      I have never known anything like it. A national health crisis and all leadership conspicuous by their absence for so long. What a disgraceful way to run such a vital sector. No reassurance for patients, or as importantly, the frontline NHS staff. It seems to suit them with a system that is not transparent and people can hide. Still difficult to see who is responsible for what.

      Personally I am not looking to increase my work load, but something that is affecting our entire nation now deserves it’s own Zsar or similar. Neither am I looking to make the political arena more complex, but we need to keep someone responsible for such a massive issue.

      One positive is that today I heard Boris speaking about all the issues that have been hidden for so long. One forward step at least. Let’s see where things go from here.

      Very best as always, Chris

  4. Hi Chris, Long Time no speak. I keep reading coming on your website about how the system is underperforming etc.
    You had your stem cell transplant over 12 years ago at Saint Georges hospital with optimum Care. I have left the UK over 6 years ago now. However i still don’t understand why people say Lady NHS doesn’t care when they actually saved your life over a decade ago with the best they had to give and the best they had.
    We both know too Well how under
    ressourced the NHS is at the moment. But if you get a moment, any chance you could write an article about gratitude for those who put their arse on the Line every day to perform daily ‘miracles’? Just a thought. Hope you are keeping well and happy. Best as always. Nx

    • Hello Nick, fabulous to hear from you! I hope all well with family Pivot?

      Indeed I have had incredible care from the NHS and that continues today. I don’t think you will find any piece that says I am not grateful personally and people don’t value the service they receive from the incredible staff on the frontline. Every family in the country has reason to be grateful of course.

      However in the recent challenging times we are experiencing, those incredible staff have not had the support from their senior leadership or Government. They have been left to struggle on, without adequate support, financially and emotionally. With no action being taken from upon high.

      Only now, with the service on it’s knees are we talking about doing something. This as we face record waiting times for years to come. As you know I have a unique perspective seeing both sides of what is currently happening. It is a situation I have been unable to ignore.

      However you make a great point and I haven’t written a thank you post for some time. Appreciate the prompt!

      Big love as always, Chris

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