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Sunday, August 23, 1998 Published at 04:33 GMT 05:33 UK


250m call to cut cancer waiting times

Experts say 50 new radiation machines are needed

Cancer specialists say the government must spend an extra 250m over the next five year to to meet its pledge to cut waiting times for sufferers of the disease.

BBC's Linda Duffin on the fight to cut waiting lists
In a report to the Department of Health, the Royal College of Radiologists underlines a drastic shortage of equipment and manpower.

The Conservatives say this shows how unrealistic are the government targets.

A survey by the college shows that patients with potentially fatal cancers currently face an average four-week wait for treatment, rising to six weeks or more in some areas.

'Treatment by spin doctors'

The government has promised it will have the wait down to two weeks for breast cancer patients within one year and for other cancer sufferers by the year 2000.

But the college says 50 new radiation machines costing 1m each will have to be bought every year for the next five years if the target is to be met and 600 extra staff will be needed.

The government says extra money is being provided and it is keen to talk to the college to try to meet the targets.

The Conservatives say Labour's health pledges owe more to spin doctors than to genuine medics.

The Royal College of Radiologists says the government's response to the report will be a test of its sincerity.

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