CANCER can strike any of us at any time. Half of us will be diagnosed with cancer; all of us know someone who has been.

Nothing prepares you for the shock of being told that you or a loved one has been diagnosed. Nothing prepares you for the loss of someone close.

Survival rates are up. Around 7,000 more people alive today compared to 2010 because of improvements in diagnosis & treatment, as well as the Cancer Drugs Fund we created.

But while we’ve seen improvements, we are still lagging behind other countries.

The key to increasing a person’s chances of surviving cancer is early diagnosis.

It’s an issue I’ve worked on closely with fantastic charities like Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Now, Macmillan, Marie Curie & Bowel Cancer UK.

That’s why I was really pleased to hear the Prime Minister’s announcement last week of a new Cancer Strategy, backed up by the recent announcement that we will increase NHS spending by an extra £394 million every week.

By investing in the very latest scanners and by building more Rapid Diagnostic Centres – like the planned at the GWH - we will see an increase in the early detection rate from one-in-two today, to-three-in four within 10 years.

Take bowel cancer for example.

If detected early, the five-year survival rates for bowel cancer are over 90 per cent, but that falls to less than 10 per cent if diagnosed late.

Working alongside fellow North Swindon residents & the charity Bowel Cancer UK, I pushed for the screening age to be lowered from 60 to 50. This change was backed by the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister and will come into force shortly; saving lives across the country.

This new Cancer Strategy will mean that by 2028, 55,000 more people will be alive five years after their diagnosis compared to today. That’s 55,000 more lives saved. 55,000 more families able to spend longer with a loved one.

Last week it was also announced that the Government will set up an independent New Homes Ombudsman to champion the rights of homebuyers and help ensure that when they buy a new home they get the quality of build they rightly expect.

This is something I have been lobbying Ministers for and it’s a real win for residents who have bought a new home and encountered serious problems with the quality.

Our town has consistently been one of the fastest growing in the country over the last decade and while the speed of housebuilding has increased, the quality in some developments has declined.

According to the Home Builders Federation, 93 per cent of buyers nationally report problems to their builders, with 35 per cent report 11 or more problems – this is completely unacceptable.

It’s entirely unacceptable that new properties are being sold despite not being watertight or complete. I’ve worked with developers to help try to ensure problems are fixed quickly, but this new Ombudsman will create an independent body which residents can approach for redress.

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you can make, and it is not fair that homebuyers have to waste time and energy fixing a faulty house.

Developers have a duty to ensure the quality of their houses – this new Ombudsman will play an important role in holding developers to account.