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Radiotherapy: Waiting Lists

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 estimates that NHS providers will have sufficient capacity to meet the 31 day waiting time standard for all radiotherapy; and what the timetable is for ensuring that the recommendations set out in the National Radiotherapy Advisory Group's report are achieved. (183987)

The Cancer Reform Strategy set a deadline for extension of the 31-day waiting time standard of December 2008 for chemotherapy and surgery. The deadline for extension of the 31-day standard for radiotherapy is December 2010. The later date for radiotherapy is in recognition of the length of time needed to increase radiotherapy capacity, for example building bunkers and purchasing and installing machinery.

The National Radiotherapy Advisory Group recommended that radiotherapy services should be developed to deliver up to 54,000 fractions per million population throughout the country by 2016, with an interim aim of delivering 40,000 fractions per million population by 2010. In addition, all departments were, as an immediate aim, to deliver at least 8,000 fractions per linac (linear accelerator) per year; increasing to at least 8,300 fractions per linac per year by 2010-11, and at least 8,700 fractions per linac per year by 2016.

Mechanisms for reviewing progress are under discussion. A national radiotherapy dataset is being developed and will be used from April 2009 to help monitor progress in radiotherapy centres around the country.