Funds allocated for cancer care may have been spent elsewhere in the NHS, the Government has admitted.
Professor Anthony Goldstone, lead clinician at the North London Cancer Network, described the administration’s policy as “on a knife-edge”.
Professor Mike Richards, the national cancer director, admitted that the Health Department did not know if the £255m earmarked for cancer care last year had been channelled to where it was supposed to go. “We are now trying to find out what actually reached the front line,” said Professor Richards.
Alan Milburn, the health secretary, made cancer his priority along with tackling heart disease yet some clinicians said that they had received little or none of £255m earmarked for cancer last year and feared that this year’s £76m could also disappear.
Dr Liam Fox, shadow health secretary, said: “Ministers keep announcing initiatives as though that will be enough. There is no attempt to make sure that the money reaches the patient.” He said that this showed that the NHS had become a “black hole which swallows up investment”.
The Department of Health revealed that it was “possible” that NHS managers had used some of the extra £255m pledged for cancer last year to repay debts and treat other diseases.