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Government pledges £200 million for new NHS cancer scanners

Mr Johnson is set to make the latest NHS spending pledge during a visit to a hospital on Friday.

The funding will provide 300 diagnostic machines in hospitals across England (PA)
The funding will provide 300 diagnostic machines in hospitals across England (PA)

By Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent

Boris Johnson is to announce a £200 million cash injection to replace MRI machines, CT scanners and breast screening equipment.

The Prime Minister is pledging an overhaul to cancer screening, with the funding providing 300 diagnostic machines in hospitals across England.

Mr Johnson is set to make the latest NHS spending pledge during a visit to a hospital on Friday, as he continues to seeks to get an early general election to break the Brexit deadlock.

However, Cancer Research UK warned that staffing shortages in the NHS need rectifying as a priority, and Labour said the money falls short of what is needed to address years of funding cuts.

Ahead of the visit, the PM said: “These new scanners will lead to quicker diagnosis, more screenings, and improved care for patients, giving brilliant NHS staff the tools they need to further boost survival rates.

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Boris Johnson visited an east London hospital earlier in the month (PA)

“It’s my priority to make sure our NHS gets every penny it needs to provide the very best care – wherever you live, and whatever your condition.”

The Department of Health said the machines, to go to more than 80 trusts, will improve efficiency and improve patient safety by delivering lower radiation levels.

Improved reliability is also expected, meaning fewer cancellations and better use of staff time.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I want to see the way we fight cancer in the NHS transformed, so we can confront this cruel disease with the best facilities to give our family, friends and colleagues the greatest chance.

“I’m determined to get cutting-edge equipment into hospitals across the country so that clinical staff are equipped with the best technology available for patients.”

Cancer Research UK welcomed the money as a necessary boost for the NHS’s “creaking equipment”, but said “bolder action” and increased staffing are needed.

Sarah Woolnough, an executive director at the charity, said: “Having access to the best machines available will help diagnose more people with cancer at an early stage when they have the best chance of surviving their disease.

“But to diagnose more people early is a momentous challenge and will require bolder action if the UK wants to achieve world-class cancer outcomes.

“And these new machines will only work if there is staff to operate them, so the Government must act urgently to address NHS staff shortages.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Mr Hancock was “yet again following our lead” with the announcement.

“But the announcement will in no way make up for the years of multi-billion pound cuts to NHS equipment budgets,” the Labour MP added.

“With 34,000 patients waiting two months just to start treatment for cancer, a credible funding plan to tackle chronic shortages in the cancer workforce is more urgent than ever. Sadly ministers have failed to offer a workforce plan yet again.”

PA

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