Cat Smith MP at the MacMillan Coffee Morning
Cat Smith MP at the MacMillan Coffee Morning

Cat Smith MP joined Macmillan Cancer Support on Wednesday 13 September to highlight the issues our cancer care system is facing across the UK and in Lancaster & Fleetwood. Together, Cat Smith MP and Macmillan joined forces to raise awareness of the long waits for tests and treatment people living with cancer are facing across the UK.

This year’s annual Coffee Morning event at Westminster, attended by over 170 MPs, asked, ‘What Are We Waiting For?’, highlighting Macmillan’s new campaign, which is calling for urgent action on cancer delays.

As our cancer system hits crisis point, together Cat Smith MP and Macmillan Cancer Support stressed that we can fix unacceptably long waits, and we can ensure people living with cancer around the UK get the timely, high-quality health care that they deserve.

Analysis from Macmillan Cancer Support, showcased at the event, suggests that at least 100,000 people across the UK have seen their cancer worsen, or they have been left with fewer treatment options due to delays in being diagnosed and starting treatment over the past decade.

  • The charity attributes this figure to long-standing failures from governments across the UK to support NHS cancer services.
  • Macmillan reports that despite their very best efforts, NHS cancer professionals are being stretched to breaking point without the extra staff or resources they need from governments.
  • In June 2023, 55.0% of people started cancer treatment at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust within 62 days of their urgent referral. This is below the expected standard of 85%.1.
  • Between January and June 2023, 222 people with cancer waited more than 62 days to start treatment at this NHS Trust, following an urgent referral. Across 2022, 444 people starting treatment waited more than 62 days.

Delays in getting a cancer diagnosis and starting treatment can lead to people’s cancer continuing to grow and spread and can also jeopardise their physical and mental health, restrict their treatment options, and potentially reduce their chances of survival. Yet, every month, tens of thousands of people across the UK still face unacceptable waiting times to confirm whether they have cancer or start treatment.

At the event, Cat Smith MP and Macmillan Cancer Support came together to draw attention to the situation across the UK and show why it’s never been so important to call for urgent action.

MPs also had the opportunity to hear from people living with cancer and cancer professionals about the impact of these delays. Attendees spoke of the urgency of the situation at the event, explaining that our cancer care system ‘risks going backwards without urgent attention from governments across the UK’, and that it is possible to help if we come together to act.

Cat Smith MP who attended the event said:

“Macmillan Cancer Support’s Coffee Morning is a fantastic annual fixture in the parliamentary calendar, and I was pleased to show my support.

“Standing alongside Macmillan and the professionals and people living with cancer I met today; I am sharing my belief that together we can take urgent action to address the critical situation with cancer waiting times.

“These waiting times targets can be met if hospital trusts, and health boards have the right resources. Governments across the UK must prioritise investment in the number of healthcare professionals who support people living with cancer, as shortages of these professionals are the main reason behind delays to treatment.

“I found it compelling to discuss the cancer waiting times facing my constituents with Macmillan. It is unacceptable that some people in Lancaster & Fleetwood have had to wait more than 62 days to start treatment at this NHS Trust, following an urgent referral.

“I would urge my constituents to join Macmillan’s campaign for action on waiting times, and to sign up to show their support at

“Macmillan Cancer Support has showed us today that we can fix unacceptably long waits and take action for healthcare professionals and people living with cancer. It begs the question, What Are We Waiting For?”

Macmillan Cancer Support Chief Executive Gemma Peters explained that:

“Every single person who has faced a worse outcome from their cancer diagnosis because of delays will know the devastating impact that unnecessary waiting has had on their lives, from the burden of anxiety that their cancer is growing, and for many, the devastating news that their cancer is now incurable. This is categorically unacceptable and entirely avoidable.”

“Governments across the UK can turn things around if they act now – immediate action will start to tackle the issues people are facing right now, and governments must implement longer-term solutions for everyone affected by cancer in the years to come.

“That is why it was so important to meet with MPs and peers today at our Westminster Coffee Morning and discuss our ‘What Are We Waiting For?’ campaign. We are calling on politicians across the UK to commit to providing the NHS with the funding and support needed to ensure everyone, everywhere gets the potentially life-saving cancer care they desperately need, on time.”

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