Turnbull and Fry effect will save lives, says NHS Chief

NHS chief Simon Stevens will today thank Bill Turnbull and Stephen Fry for speaking out about their prostate cancer diagnosis and announce an injection of £10 million to increase capacity, helping services see and treat the extra people coming forward for help.

The NHS is already seeing and treating more people than ever before and as more people have come forward for help, demand has increased, meaning some patients are experiencing longer waits.

Latest figures show that from April to July 2018, 14,479 patients received treatment for a urological cancer – this is an increase of 3,929 (36%) compared to the same period in 2017.

NHS England and NHS Improvement are already working with trusts to help them manage the additional demand and this £10m will form part of the support package – to be used to increase capacity  in areas where support is most needed, for example by extending clinic hours.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “A debt of gratitude is owed to Bill Turnbull and Stephen Fry for the work they have done to urge men to seek medical advice if they think something isn’t right. The Turnbull and Fry effect could help save lives.

“This additional investment will help ensure the NHS can manage this jump in demand, so that all people with suspected cancer are tested and treated quickly.”

There were 70,000 visits to the NHS website advice page on prostate cancer in March, a 250% increase from the monthly average of around 20,000.

The surge followed media coverage about the number of people dying as a result of prostate cancer overtaking deaths from breast cancer in February and came as Bill Turnbull and Stephen Fry revealed that they had the disease.

Heather Blake, director of support influencing at Prostate Cancer UK said: “It is very encouraging that NHS England is injecting £10 million to deal with some of the most urgent capacity issues around prostate cancer diagnosis, and we welcome this investment. With improvements to prostate cancer diagnosis already underway, this funding can help start to increase MRI scanner capacity and the radiologist workforce.

“Following the £75 million research investment for prostate cancer pledged by the Prime Minister earlier this year, today’s announcement again shows a positive commitment from decision makers to getting men the early and accurate diagnosis and treatments for prostate cancer that are needed to save lives. We look forward to seeing more detail outlined in the upcoming Budget and NHS England cancer strategy announcements later this Autumn. Most importantly, we would like to see these include the aim of getting to a screening programme, as this will have the biggest impact.”