This week has been big for health issues on the national stage – but also a key one for us locally too. In Westminster we found out about the government’s plans to hold the virus at bay this winter, which seem sensible.

We also passed a new law to establish the new health and care levy. Although some have criticised the mechanism through which the money is raised, no one says the £12 billion of additional funding is not needed – and rightly so because we now have nearly six million people waiting for their NHS surgery.

But in South West Surrey too it is a very important week for health issues because on the very day the Herald comes out we are launching a big new campaign for a new Cancer and Surgical Innovation Centre at the Royal Surrey County Hospital.

A brief reminder of why this is so urgently needed: Firstly because, as we all know, there is an enormous backlog in cancer cases following the pandemic. Even though treating cancer early is critical, last year saw 45,000 fewer people starting cancer treatment according to Cancer Research UK.

But secondly, even before the pandemic our cancer survival rates were behind countries like Denmark and Australia and it is time to sort it out. Other countries do better because they have put in place better systems for picking up and treating cancers before they become life-threatening.

That is why the NHS has an ambition, which I put in place as health secretary, to increase the proportion of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 from around half to three quarters.

Dealing with those two challenges at once is a tall order but the good news is that in Surrey we are already ahead of many parts of the country in detecting cancers earlier.

However, we need to expand our capacity to treat the cancers we find, which is why the new centre is so important. We need the NHS to fund the core building of the centre which we will then support with additional fundraising locally.

The campaign will be launched on Thursday, September 16 at a public meeting that starts at 6pm in the Haslemere Hall.

Louise Stead, chief executive of the Royal Surrey will attend the meeting in person with clinical directors and surgeons from the hospital.

Farnham resident Dr Claire Fuller, who runs the Surrey Heartlands shadow Integrated Care System (effectively the head of the NHS in Surrey) will also attend. They will outline the details of the plan, how much different parts of it will cost and when we hope the new centre might open.

If you are reading this ahead of the meeting and want to attend, please do join us in person! You can also log in by Zoom, with the details on my website

But even if you are (or were) not able to attend, please do follow and support the campaign by emailing me at [email protected]

Half of us will get cancer in our lifetimes so there isn’t a family in South West Surrey that hasn’t been touched by it. Now is the time to bring our survival rates up to the best in the world – and I want us to lead the way right here in Surrey.