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Cancer Services

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 15 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether (a) the maximum one-month waiting time from diagnosis to treatment for breast cancer and (b) the maximum two-month waiting time for treatment following an urgent referral as set out in the Cancer Plan have been achieved.[108295]

Very good performance continues to be achieved with 96.5 per cent. of women receiving their first treatment within one month of diagnosis with breast cancer in the last quarter (October to December 2002). The target of two months from urgent referral to first treatment was introduced from December 2002 and data on performance of this target will be published later in the year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of how many extra (a) diagnostic radiographers and (b) radiologists are needed to deal with current and future workloads.[108298]

The NHS Cancer Plan sets targets to increase the cancer workforce by 2006. For radiologists, the forecast is for the number to rise by 260, an increase of 17 per cent. For diagnostic radiographers, the forecast is for the number to rise by 314, an increase of 4 per cent. The National Cancer Director works closely with cancer networks, professional organisations and workforce development confederations to ensure that national decisions about workforce planning reflect the needs of the service.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many breast cancer patients have benefited from drugs appraised by NICE since its establishment; [108301](2) what reports he has received on the implementation of guidance for breast cancer drugs appraised by NICE.[108302]

Last December, Roche, the manufacturers of trastuzumab (Herceptin) wrote to the Department presenting figures on the availability of this drug post the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) appraisal. The Department has asked Roche to provide the information broken down by cancer network. Once these data have been received, we will consider the best course of action to take.If fully implemented, NICE estimates that the guidance they have issued on the use of paclitaxel,docetaxel,trastuzumab and vinorelbine for breast cancer could impact on around 10,000 women in England and Wales.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether the results of the tracking exercise for earmarked cancer funds will be used to determine funding priorities in cancer services in the future; [108307](2) how many strategic health authorities have responded to the request for information under the exceptional tracking exercise for cancer funds; [108306]

(3) whether the exceptional tracking exercise for earmarked cancer funds will be carried out on an annual basis; [108305]

(4) whether the information collated from each strategic health authority under the exceptional tracking exercise will be published on (a an authority-by-authority basis and (b) a regional basis; [108304]

(5) whether the results of the exceptional tracking exercise into cancer funding will be published in full; and how and where the results of the exercise will be published; [108309]

(6) whether the results of the tracking exercise into cancer funding will show how much extra money has been spent on (a) cancer drugs, (b) new staff for cancer services and (c) new cancer services since the publication of the Cancer Plan in 2000; [108308]

(7) when the exceptional tracking exercise for earmarked cancer funds will be published.[108303]

We asked strategic health authorities (SHAs), as part of an exceptional exercise, to identify total additional investment in cancer services in 2001–02 and 2002–03 with a sub-total for cancer drugs, and supporting information on new service developments.We intend to publish headline national and cancer network level figures on cancer investment on the Department's website in late spring. All 28 SHAs have responded to the exercise. At a local level this exercise will inform cancer networks' discussions with their stakeholders on plans for future investment, to further improve patient care.It is our policy, within the framework set out in the NHS Plan and the "Shifting the balance of power" initiative, to devolve funding decisions to the front line. It is now for primary care trusts in partnership with strategic health authorities and other local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national priorities, as laid out in the planning and priorities framework and to meet local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities and modernising services, based on the specialised knowledge they have of the local community.We are devolving power from the centre to locally run services, to allow the freedom to innovate and improve care for patients. The increased resources that we have made available and will continue to make available to support the implementation of the Cancer Plan will move to the national health service frontline. Primary care trusts will have freedom to decide where national health service resources are best spent but they will need to account publicly for how they have used resources against the test of high clinical standards and good value for money.