Liberal Democrats push for a two-month cancer treatment guarantee to support patients in Guildford

29 Sep 2023

The Liberal Democrats have called for a new legal right for cancer patients to start treatment within 62 days of an urgent referral, as part of a plan to improve outcomes and improve treatment. 

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford, Zöe Franklin, strongly supports this policy, announced at the Party’s conference earlier this week.

Zöe Franklin said: 

“The two-month target has been a government pledge since 2000, but it hasn’t been met since 2015, and has never been written into law.

“We are committed to holding this Government to account and are determined to push for the right care at the right time for cancer patients.”

Latest NHS figures show that in the last year, more than 25% of patients referred to the Royal Surrey Foundation NHS Trust waited more than 62 days to start treatment.

Just under 75% of patients referred were treated within two months, below the government target of 85%.

Zoe Franklin continued: 

“I would like to thank all our dedicated healthcare professionals and support staff who are working so hard to achieve the very best for their patients with the resources they have.

"After more than thirteen years in power, the Government is still failing to deliver what it promised, failing to get all patients the treatment they need when they need it, failing to support their families and loved ones, and failing to give the NHS the resources it needs.”


Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey used his Autumn Conference speech to set out proposals to invest an extra £4 billion in NHS cancer treatment over the next five years.

The Liberal Democrats’ plan includes: 

  • new radiotherapy machines
  • cutting the time for new medicines to reach patients
  • a new cancer research law 
  • and better support for cancer patients and their families

The new policy builds on existing proposals from the party on health, including introducing a right to see a GP within a week and expanding NHS dentistry so people aren't forced to pay for private dental treatment. 

Zöe Franklin, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Guildford concluded: 

"So many lives are touched by cancer, whether it’s the patient and their loved ones struggling to process the news of their diagnosis, to the worry about treatment and the vital support they need while they’re navigating one of the most frightening times of their lives.

“Far too many people are still waiting far too long for a diagnosis, or to start treatment after being diagnosed. 

“We must do right by them and get them the care they need when they need it.” 

The Liberal Democrats would give cancer patients a new legal right to treatment within two months of an urgent referral, to make sure they get the care they deserve. 

This forms part of the party’s ambitious plan to end unacceptable cancer delays and boost survival rates.


Notes to Editors 

NHS statistics on cancer waiting times are available here.  

Ed Davey's keynote speech can be found here.  

The Liberal Democrats' five-year cancer plan includes: 

  • Two-month cancer treatment guarantee. A new target for 100% of patients to start treatment for cancer within 62 days from urgent referral, with this right written into law. Currently, this is only a government pledge, and 40% of patients wait longer than 62 days. 
  • Boost access to radiotherapy. Replace ageing radiotherapy machines and increase their number, as well as widening access so that no one has to travel too far for treatment. 
  • Halve the time for new treatments to reach patients. It takes an average of 11 months for a new medicine or medical technology to be approved and available to patients in England, compared to just 4 months in Germany. We will expand the MHRA's capacity to speed up that process. 
  • Pass a Cancer Survival Research Act. New legislation modelled on the US law signed by President Obama in 2013. It would require the Government to coordinate and ensure funding for research into the cancers with the lowest survival rates, including lung, liver, brain and pancreatic cancer. 
  • Save the National Cancer Research Institute. The Government is presiding over the closure of the National Cancer Research Institute, which was established in 2001 and plays a vital role in coordinating cancer research, due to uncertainty over research funding. Its closure has been described by one oncology professor as like "turning off air traffic control and hoping the planes will be fine". 
  • Improve support for patients and their families. Recruit more cancer nurses so that every patient has a dedicated specialist supporting them throughout their treatment. Ensure patients and their families are given information about charities, patient support groups and financial support at every key stage: referral, diagnosis and starting treatment. 

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