Anneliese Dodds says Labour will hire more NHS staff to cut cancer waiting times, after Kate reveals diagnosis

24 March 2024, 08:28

Labour's Anneliese Dodds on Sunday
Labour's Anneliese Dodds on Sunday. Picture: LBC/BBC Studios

By Kit Heren

Labour's Anneliese Dodds has said that cancer care in the UK has got worse in recent years, as she discussed Labour's plans to bolster the NHS workforce.

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Ms Dodds, Labour's shadow minister for women and equalities and party chairwoman, said it was "incredibly important" that Labour improve the situation.

Labour say that NHS cancer waiting lists have got worse every year since 2010, and about 500,000 suspected cancer patients wait longer than the recommended two weeks to see a specialist after a referral.

Cancer Research UK said earlier this month that the last time all cancer waiting time targets were met in England was over eight years ago.

It comes after the Princess of Wales revealed her own cancer diagnosis on Sunday, and said that she was undergoing preventative chemotherapy.

Read more: Prince and Princess of Wales 'extremely grateful' and 'moved by public's support' after Kate's cancer announcement

Read more: Kate's 'emotional' private lunch with Charles as she sought advice before revealing cancer diagnosis to the world

Watch: Princess Kate announces that she is receiving treatment for cancer

Asked by LBC's Matthew Wright what Labour would do to improve the situation, Ms Dodds focused on increasing the number of NHS clinical staff.

She said: "Obviously, whenever anyone gets a cancer diagnosis, it's incredibly worrying for them. And to have the added stress of not knowing how long they'll have to wait, particularly for, for example, for specialist treatment with breast cancer.

She added that "within the NHS, the two week target to being seen by a specialist... unfortunately, is not being met, for many, many women, when it comes to breast cancer.

"For other forms of cancer as well, we're seeing the situation slip back.

"So we do need to act on this, it's incredibly important."

Labour's Anneliese Dodds
Labour's Anneliese Dodds. Picture: Alamy

Ms Dodds added that when she had visited hospitals, "they've consistently said the biggest issue is the workforce, both recruitment and then retention as well."

She said: "Many of those staff, they want to provide an excellent service, but they're just too stretched at the moment. So we do need to be seeing those extra doctors and nurses going in".

Ms Dodds said that Labour has "set out those plans for additional staff in our NHS, we're still committed to those plans".

Kate is receiving treatment for cancer
Kate is receiving treatment for cancer. Picture: Kensington Palace

During her video on Friday Kate thanked the public for their "wonderful messages of support" and understanding during her recovery from abdominal surgery in January.

The princess added that she had been keeping it private so she and William could take their time explaining what had happened to their three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis.

Details of the type of cancer and stage it is at are being kept private.

The news has sparked an outpouring of support from her family, the public, and leaders across the world. William and Kate said on Saturday evening that they were grateful for the good wishes they had received.

Andrew Marr reacts as Kate, Princess of Wales announces she is receiving treatment for cancer

Sharing the update in a video, Kate said: "It has been an incredibly tough couple of months for our entire family, but I’ve had a fantastic medical team who have taken great care of me, for which I am so grateful.

"In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful. However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present.

"My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy and I am now in the early stages of that treatment.

"This of course came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family.

Royal expert on Princess Kate's cancer treatment announcement: "It was a very well-crafted, very human statement."

"As you can imagine, this has taken time. It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment.

"But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be ok.

"As I have said to them; I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirits."

She directly addressed people who have been affected by cancer, adding: "Please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone."

Kate was last seen on Christmas Day
Kate was last seen on Christmas Day. Picture: Alamy

It comes as Kate has faced weeks of online speculation over her health and whereabouts.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded to the announcement saying: "My thoughts are with the Princess of Wales, Prince of Wales, the Royal Family and in particular her three children at this difficult time.

"The Princess of Wales has the love and support of the whole country as she continues her recovery.

"She has shown tremendous bravery with her statement today. In recent weeks she has been subjected to intense scrutiny and has been unfairly treated by certain sections of the media around the world and on social media.

"When it comes to matters of health, like everyone else, she must be afforded the privacy to focus on her treatment and be with her loving family.

"I know I speak for the whole country in wishing her a full and speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her back in action when she's ready."

Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Princess of Wales has "the love and support of not just her whole family, but the whole nation too" during this "distressing time".

He said in a statement: "On behalf of the whole Labour Party, I want to send my very best wishes to Her Royal Highness at this distressing time. Our thoughts are with the whole Royal Family as they come to terms with the news and as they support The Princess of Wales through her treatment and recovery.

"Any cancer diagnosis is shocking. But I can only imagine the added stress of receiving that news amid the lurid speculation we've seen in recent weeks.

"Their Royal Highnesses are entitled to privacy and, like any parents, will have waited to choose the right moment to tell their children.

"I am heartened by The Princess of Wales' optimistic tone and her message of faith and hope. Her Royal Highness will be in our thoughts and prayers as she progresses through her treatment with the love and support of not just her whole family, but the whole nation too."

Kate's last public engagement was at Sandringham on Christmas Day, with Kensington Palace announcing that she would not return to public engagements until Easter at the earliest.

Kensington Palace acknowledged from the outset that when she is ready, the Princess may choose to disclose further details about her surgery and recovery.

But aides have also stressed that she is entitled to privacy around her personal medical information.

It comes after it was revealed that three London clinic staff were placed under investigation for allegedly trying to access Kate's medical records following her operation.

On Wednesday, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) confirmed it had received a complaint and said it is currently "assessing the information provided".

Kate was made aware of the "major security breach".