My select committee is currently doing an inquiry into how to improve NHS cancer services, as regular readers of this column will know.

One of the key changes we need to see is earlier diagnosis because cancer is one of the most time-critical diseases - catch it early and it is often curable but leave it too late and the consequences can be fatal.

Professor Sir Mike Richards was my chief inspector of hospitals but prior to that was Tony Blair’s cancer ’tsar’.

He told the select committee this summer that one of the solutions is more rapid diagnostic centres.

They would allow people to receive multiple scans at the same time, not just for cancer, and make it much easier for GPs to get a quick result when unsure of someone’s symptoms.

What Sir Mike says makes a lot of sense - so it is excellent news that Milford Hospital has been chosen for one of 40 new such centres announced by the health secretary Sajid Javid this week.

The 40 centres will do 2.8 million scans annually, which means our one in Milford should do about 70,000 scans a year - or around 200 scans every single day. This really is fantastic news if we are going to improve our cancer outcomes locally.

The new centres will be open with nurses and radiographers seven days a week and scan for symptoms such as breathlessness and eye issues as well, of course, as lumps.

They will mean fewer patients needing to go to the Royal Surrey or Frimley which is good for Covid-19 infection control.

They will also mean shorter waits than people are currently offered and lower emissions because people will make fewer journeys when they are able to get all their scans at the same time.

The Milford centre will be up and running by next March.

Of course there is something else that would make a real difference - it won’t surprise you to know what is coming - which is a new Cancer and Surgical Innovation Centre for the Royal Surrey.

We have already secured £25 million of funding - for which a big thank you is owed to outgoing NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens following my meeting to raise the issue with him in June.

But now we want - in the next few years - to raise an extra £1m towards some new surgery robots.

These are the very best in the world and will make a huge difference to the quality and quantity of surgery the hospital is able to offer.

So if you can help with a donation, large or small, please go to the Royal Surrey’s website at

Improving our cancer outcomes to be among the best in Europe is an ambition I have long had for the NHS.

There is lots of work to be done but it is very encouraging that things are really starting to happen.