A leading cancer doctor has claimed he was almost cancelled from the Conservative Party Conference because an organisation “didn’t like his thoughts” on NHS failings.
Professor Karol Sikora, a renowned oncologist who worked in the NHS for 40 years, had been booked two months in advance to appear at The Spectator magazine’s fringe debate titled “How to fix Britain’s cancer crisis”.
But on Sunday, he was informed by Fraser Nelson, the publication’s editor, that an NHS supplier sponsoring the event had threatened to pull its £25,000 support and cut ties if he appeared on the panel.
Rather than no-platforming him, The Spectator decided to forgo the payment and press ahead without any sponsorship, in order to avoid disinviting the Rutherford Health clinic medical director.
Prof Sikora said the sponsor was an unnamed NHS supplier who “didn’t want” him, after his outspoken views criticising NHS bureaucracy, Covid-19 lockdowns and failings during the pandemic.
“It’s cancel culture – there’s nothing wrong with the NHS doctors, nurses or technology, they are fantastic, it’s the management and the whole structure that is wrong,” he told The Telegraph.
“Not always at a local level, but NHS England is filled with highly-paid people that essentially do nothing and cause problems in the system, and I think anybody can recognise that we don’t need more money for the healthcare system, we need better management.
“People didn’t like my thoughts and attempted to cancel me which is very amusing, but it has backfired.”
‘Overflowing with desperate patients’
The event went ahead at the annual party gathering in Manchester on Tuesday, with Prof Sikora speaking alongside Elliot Colburn MP, the vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, Dr Katharine Halliday, the president of the Royal College of Radiologists, and Dr Owen Jackson from Cancer Research UK.
The main topic of discussion was why the UK has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in Europe.
Prof Sikora has been vocal in attacking “destructive, and often pointless, lockdown measures” which have left his inbox “overflowing with desperate cancer patients” and has called for the wages of NHS managers to be spent on front-line staff.
The Spectator said in a statement: “We blew our chance to have this debate sponsored when we booked Professor Karol Sikora, a renowned oncologist who has been critical of the NHS.
“This was too much for an NHS supplier to sponsor, for reasons that we understand and respect – but it seemed odd to have this discussion without mentioning the elephant in the room.”