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Cancer Care (Hendon)

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2006

6. What progress has been made in improving care for cancer patients in Hendon; and if she will make a statement. (95965)

As in England as a whole, cancer patients in Hendon are treated faster than ever before. At the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, where most cancer patients in Hendon are treated, 100 per cent. of patients are seen by a cancer specialist within two weeks of GP referral and receive treatment within two months.

I am sure that my right hon. Friend would agree that that record would not have been achieved without the setting of targets. Will she commend the new out-patients’ oncology department at the Royal Free, which has state-of-the-art facilities? Will she also look at ensuring that patients who go to Barnet hospital who are in need of tertiary care are referred to the Royal Free, rather than Mount Vernon hospital as at present? That would enable them to take advantage of the excellent record at the Royal Free and would mean that they could have treatment closer to home, using transport links rather more effectively.

My hon. Friend is quite right to point to the advances that have been made in terms of the extra investment that has gone into cancer treatment, and the increased number of cancer consultants and clinical nurse specialists. That has made a real difference to the outcomes for cancer patients. Of course, the cancer networks look at the referral patterns and I shall certainly make sure that the cancer network that oversees his area is aware of the points that he has made.

Is it still intended to move the Mount Vernon cancer centre, which also serves the people of Hendon, to central Hertfordshire, as promised at the last election, or is it the case, as the local health trust now says, that it is precluded from including a cancer centre in the proposed new hospital in central Hertfordshire for financial reasons, if indeed such a hospital is ever to go ahead? Will the Minister clarify that?

The East of England strategic health authority is reviewing acute hospital services in the east of England and the needs of cancer patients will, of course, be taken into account in that review. Any reconfiguration of cancer services will be in line with the NICE guidelines for improving outcomes, which are designed to improve the overall quality of care for cancer patients.