Leading Article: It takes more than fine words to defeat cancer
Friday 21 May 1999
The point is that we now know a great deal about the treatments that are most effective, and so spending large amounts of money would indeed prolong and improve the quality of many lives.
The danger of Mr Blair's self-beatifying publicity stunt is rhetorical overkill. There may not have been any new money announced, but the Government has already started to do the right things.
The truth is that Britain has one of the worst cancer survival rates among comparable countries, largely because it spends too little on the NHS. Treating cancer needs expensive equipment and, even more, expensive drugs. But the Government has substantially increased spending this year and for the next two years, and has targeted resources on specific cancer programmes. Yesterday's new target - to save 60,000 lives over the next 10 years - is also a sensible way to focus minds on outcomes rather than inputs. Rather than declaring metaphorical wars and straining for effect, the Government needs to present a sober picture of steady progress. If only Mr Blair would claim a little less, he might be believed a little more.
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