'More people will die', experts warn after cancer treatment delays in the Midlands are revealed

ITV News Central Reporter Lewis Warner speaks to a cancer patient who faced a two-three month wait for treatment

A medical expert has warned "more people will die" as people waiting for cancer treatment face lengthy delays.

Professor Pat Price, who is a leading Oncologist, said we are facing a regional lottery of cancer inequality alongside a growing cancer backlog.

She said: "Cancer patients don't have the luxury of time, if we don't act more people will die at home who don't need to."

Her comments come as a man from Bromsgrove has told ITV Central he has been forced into paying £20,000 to fund his own cancer treatment after facing huge delays within the NHS.

Rob McMahon was diagnosed with prostate cancer just as the pandemic hit the UK last year.

'If I had not acted with such urgency, I would have been potentially beyond the point that surgery alone wouldn't have been sufficient, Rob McMahon says

After weeks waiting - even for a consultation - he was told he would have to wait almost three months for the treatment he needed.

He decided to take the matter into his own hands and he now believes that private healthcare saved his life - however, he is worried for those who don't have the same option.

Figures published on Wednesday by the National Audit Office (NAO) have revealed people living in Birmingham and Solihull are facing some of the longest waits in the country for cancer treatment.

A funding boost of £5.9 billion has already been announced for the NHS to tackle its record-length waiting list.

But there is no guarantee that will clear the queue of around 6 million patients.

Professor Price is also the co-founder of #CatchUpWithCancer - a campaign calling for the Government and NHS to boost cancer treatments to tackle delays.

She said we are facing a regional lottery of cancer inequality alongside a growing cancer backlog.

Prof Price said: "The regional waiting times are frightening.

"Cancer services in certain areas are on life support and failure to act will only lead to an unmitigated disaster because every four weeks of delay can mean a 10% reduction in cancer survival."

Cancer patients are waiting too long for treatment. Credit: PA

In response to the figures from the National Audit Office, The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said it was hit the hardest by Covid 19 and was taking steps to speed up waiting times.

The trust said: "Teams and colleagues across our hospitals are working hard to increase the number of treatments available.

"The pandemic unfortunately continues to have a significant impact on our waiting lists, however our incredible staff will continue to clinically prioritise patients, whilst having treated more than 18,500 patients with Covid-19."

A spokesperson for the NHS added: "NHS staff are now pulling out all the stops to recover elective activity levels, making good use of additional resources to open new surgical hubs and diagnostic centres, develop innovative ways of working and perform more operations, tests, checks and scans, so anyone who is concerned about their health should come forward so the NHS can help you."