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Cancer: Psychiatry

Volume 472: debated on Tuesday 26 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to the publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy, when he expects good psychological support services to be available throughout the cancer journey; by what means he plans to monitor progress towards this objective; and what sanctions will be imposed on NHS organisations which do not make sufficient progress. (183994)

The Cancer Reform Strategy said that it is important for all service providers to have established pathways to enable patients to access specialist psychological support as and when they need it. Commissioners will need to ensure that adequate provision is available so that all patients, families and carers can access the appropriate psychological support for them. This will include establishing service level agreements with local mental health services for more advanced support.

Providing support for patients experiencing distress is a key component of the role of the cancer nurse specialist. Yet delivering this effectively will require appropriate training and support. Commissioners should work collaboratively to ensure that this is available.

Commissioners should specify to providers through robust service specifications their requirements around psychological support for cancer patients, their families and carers, which should be measurable and monitored through the quality monitoring of contracts at primary care trust level.