• Government pledges extra £100m capital funding this year and in 2020-21
  • Increases DHSC capital spending limit to £7.1bn this year and £7.2bn the next
  • New equipment for 80 trusts

The government has brought forward a spending announcement, promising an extra £200m to improve the cancer scanning and diagnostic capacity of the NHS over the next 18 months.

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced the Treasury has authorised an increase in the capital spending limit of £100m for 2019-20 and £100m for 2020-21.

The government’s Spending Review earlier this month, showed a £7bn capital budget for this year, rising to £7.1bn in 2020-21. These sums will now increase by £100m each, to £7.1bn and £7.2bn respectively, a DHSC spokeswoman said.

Earlier announcements of extra capital funding have transpired to be partly authorisations for foundation trusts to spend their existing reserves, and it is not yet clear whether this announcement will also come with new cash.

The spending review document said the DHSC would get a “multiyear capital settlement” at the next capital review, which would include capital to “modernise diagnostics”.

The DHSC said the money would pay for 300 diagnostic machines across England, including MRI machines, CT scanners and breast screening equipment at 80 different trusts.

Diagnostic capacity has been a big factor in overall cancer performance, a recent study of which put the UK at the bottom of an international league table for many cancers.

The NHS long-term plan commits the service to diagnosing 75 per cent of cancers at the earlier stages (stages one and two).

Current national performance on early stage of diagnosis is below 50 per cent with large differences from region to region.

Nearly one in five cancers is not detected until the patient arrives in accident and emergency, according to the most recent data.

Earlier this month, Cancer Research UK warned a lack of government action on staffing would mean the government was unlikely to hit the 75 per cent target.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said in the announcement: “The NHS is the best healthcare service in the world, and the treatment and care it provides is one reason cancer survival rates are at a record high.

“But too many lives are still being lost to this shattering illness. We can, must, and will do so much more for sufferers and their families.

“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.”

HSJ National Cancer Forum

The HSJ National Cancer Forum takes place on 18 March 2020 at the Park Plaza Victoria in London. Taking place over one day, the forum will bring together the cancer community to discuss national policy and how to deliver the long-term plan at a local level. The event is free to attend for the relevant audience from the NHS. By attending you will gain clarity on and hear analysis of national policy from those responsible for shaping it, and understand how to implement it in your area. You will also explore the future of cancer care, and the innovations along the whole pathway.

Register your interest