Sir Ed Davey delivers keynote speech on Tuesday Photo: Ben Birchall/PA
Cancer patients will have a legal right to treatment within for two months under plans outlined by the Liberal Democrats.
Sir Ed Davey used his leader's speech at the closing of the party's annual autumn conference in Bournemouth to outline a five-year cancer plan aimed at improving survival rates. in England.
Current NHS targets state that people with urgent referrals should start treatment within two months, but more than 72,000 people – around two in five patients – waited longer last year and the target was not met. from 2015.
The Telegraph understands that under the Lib Dem plans, patients who do not start treatment on time will be able to contact the Health Ombudsman and will also have the opportunity to sue the government .
On a very personal note In his speech, Sir Ed spoke about his experience of losing both his parents to cancer as a young man, adding that his family's story was “not unique.”
“On this very day, thousands of people across the UK will hear this fateful diagnosis,” he said. “Thousands of people are holding back tears as they try to comprehend what this means for them.
“Too many people are still waiting too long to get a diagnosis or treatment after being diagnosed.”
Claiming that “voting Conservative is bad for your health”, Sir Ed criticized the Government's decision to scrap the 10-year plan to tackle the cancer backlog, calling the scheme “another casualty of all the Tory chaos”.
“I fervently hope that we can reach a consensus among politicians to make cancer a top priority in the next parliament,” he added.
“This will be a top priority for Liberal Democrat MPs. And that’s why today I’m announcing our new and ambitious plan to end unacceptable delays in cancer treatment and improve survival rates.” radiotherapy machines and will halve the time it takes new treatments to reach patients through investment in the medicine regulator.
There will also be new legislation, modeled on the US law signed by Barack Obama, requiring from ministers to coordinate and provide additional funding for research into cancers with the lowest survival rates, including brain, lung and liver cancers.
Some doctors have questioned the effectiveness of recent changes in fighting cancer. Last month Professor Pat Price, chairman of cancer charity Radiotherapy UK, said “failure is failure no matter how you manage it”, while others warn that goals can have a distorting effect.A number of other Lib Dem policy proposals announced in recent days have been health-related, including plans to introduce a mental health MTP and the creation of a Royal College of Social Care to address recruitment issues.
In his speech, Sir Ed also vowed to “tear down [the Blue Wall] for good”, referring to the Tory heartland seats of Shropshire, Somerset and Devon that the party captured in recent by-election triumphs.
Leadership embarrassment< p>His remarks come ahead of the next election contest in Mid Bedfordshire, triggered by the departure of Nadine Dorries, the former Conservative culture secretary.
The Liberal Democrats say they are confident their local candidate, Emma Holland-Lindsay, will win a by-election next month, although recent polls suggest it is a tight race.
The four-day conference is the first in four years of running in person – the party has sought to position itself as a formidable electoral force after winning a by-election.
However, the leadership faced embarrassment on Monday as it attempted to scrap a national housing target of 380,000 homes was rejected by campaigners.
The party's position on Brexit has also come under scrutiny, with Sir Ed failing seven times to say whether it wants to rejoin the European Union in the long term.
He also insisted voters on the doorstep are no longer talking about Brexit. But Leila Moran, the party's foreign affairs spokeswoman, used the side event to tell party members: “We want to reunite.”