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Prime Minister comments on leaked hospital memo row

The Prime Minister has been talking about the cancer treatment row in Oxford Photo:

The Prime Minister has been asked for her views on claims, from a leaked memo by a leading doctor, that treatment for cancer patients would have to be delayed at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford because of a shortage of trained nurses.

At today's Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in parliament, the Shadow Health Minister Luciana Berger asked if the PM would apologise for the 'appalling situation'.

The question was raised at PMQs

"The trust has made clear there are absolutely no plans to delay the start of chemotherapy treatment or reduce the number of cycles of treatment given to cancer patients.

"Again, what (NHS England chief) Simon Stevens has said is happening in the NHS in relation to this is, over the past three years, highest cancer survival rates ever.

"Latest survival figures show an estimated more than 7,000 more people surviving cancer after successful NHS cancer treatment compared to three years prior.

"And we do see more, 3,200 more diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers, than in May 2010.

"So we will continue to look at this, but we're continuing to put the funding in that is enabling us to improve our treatment for cancer patients."

– Prime Minister Theresa May at PMQs

In a statement the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said that it had not made any changes to its formal policy for chemotherapy.

After PMQs was finished, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon raised the issue in the House of Commons through a point of order.

"Seriously and terminally ill patients at the Churchill Hospital now face delays and cuts to rounds of chemotherapy due to a chronic shortage of specialist staff," said the Liberal Democrat MP.

"The next health questions aren't until February 6 and the people of Oxfordshire need answers now.

"After all, cancer doesn't wait."

– Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon

However, the commons speaker John Bercow, said that the issue had been raised at PMQs and that Ms Moran could pursue the matter through other means in parliament.

There has also been reaction today from the charity, Cancer Research UK.

“Cancer Research UK has been campaigning to urge the Government to tackle cancer workforce shortages in the NHS for the last three years. It’s totally unacceptable that these shortages could lead to delays in patients getting cancer treatment.

“Immediate action needs to be taken by the Government to deal with this, otherwise problems like the one at Oxford will become more widespread and more severe.

“We need to see concrete action on the recent plan by Health Education England to tackle NHS staff shortages. An extra 150,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer annually by 2035. This issue will not go away without decisive action.”

– Sir Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive, Cancer Research UK