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Cancer Care

Volume 410: debated on Tuesday 2 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions his Department has had with strategic health authorities and primary care trusts to ensure cancer is treated as a primary care priority in line with his Department's national guidance; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure cancer is treated as a primary care priority in line with his Department's national guidance. [123255]

The NHS Cancedr Plan made clear the crucial role that family doctors and community nurses have to play at all stages along the cancer patient pathway. One of the actions in the NHS Cancer Plan was the establishment of a new partnership between the National Health Service and Macmillan Cancer Relief to provide around £3 million a year for three years to support a lead clinician in cancer within every primary care trust (PCT). These leads have a key role to play by providing strategic leadership within the PCT, contributing to the development of cancer networks, improving communication between sectors, raising standards of cancer care through the PCTs and ensuring services are responsive to the needs of people affected by cancer.A recent workshop to develop a vision for primary care cancer services examined the role of community-based services in all aspects of cancer care including patients at risk of cancer, patients with symptoms suggesting a possible diagnosis of cancer and the care of patients with known cancer. The workshop was attended by a number of stakeholders including representatives from PCTs. It also provided an opportunity to consider the cancer elements of the proposed general medical services contract quality and outcomes framework. This includes some cancer and palliative care specific indicators as well as other generic organisational indicators that are of particular relevance to cancer patients wuch as sharing information out of hours.Responsibility for commissioning of cancer services now rests with PCTs and it is for PCTs in parnership with strategic health authorities (SHAs) and other local stakeholders to determine how best to meet national priorities, including the targets set for cancer, in "Improvement, Expansion and Reform: the next three years—Priorities and Planning Framework 2003 to 2006".PCTs and SHAs were required to produce local delivery plans (LDPs) for the three years 2003–04 to 2005–06 setting out how the would deliver the national targets set out in the Priorities and Planning Framework and supporting guidance was provided to assist with this. It is the SHA who are responsible for delivering the targets or outcomes in their LDP.