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Cancer: Health Services

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to improve support services for cancer patients. (201337)

The “Cancer Reform Strategy”, published in December 2007, sets out a number of initiatives to improve patient support services for those living with and beyond cancer.

These initiatives include:

ensuring patients receive high quality personalised information throughout their cancer journey on issues such as cancer treatment, local and national support services, and financial benefits;

working with cancer professionals in the NHS to improve their communication skills when dealing with patients;

the establishment of a new national cancer survivorship initiative; and

monitoring progress on improving patient experience through annual surveys.

More detailed information on these measures is available in chapter five of the “Cancer Reform Strategy” a copy of which is available in the Library and on the Department’s website at:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects the National Cancer Intelligence Network to complete its framework enabling accurate comparisons of England’s cancer services with other countries; and when he plans to begin making such comparisons. (203610)

The new National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) will be launched on 18 June 2008. The NCIN will bring together relevant stakeholders to develop, build, maintain and quality assure a new national repository of cancer data.

The NCIN will also manage the delivery and publication of comparative national information on diagnosis, treatment and outcomes for types of cancer and types of patients.

During 2008, the NCIN will be collaborating closely with other countries to establish what comparisons can be made, and within what time scales. These plans will be outlined as part of the overall NCIN delivery plans, in the first annual report for 2008-09.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which costs associated with implementation of the cancer reform strategy will be met by his Department in each of the next five years; and what additional resources have been included in primary care trust allocations to cover other costs of implementing the strategy. (203611)

The Impact Assessment published alongside the “Cancer Reform Strategy” sets out the estimated costs of implementing the strategy in each year. The funding to meet these expected costs is mainly being provided through primary care trusts (PCT) general allocations, with some costs met centrally. PCT allocations are not broken down into funding streams for individual services, and it is for the national health service to decide locally how best to deliver the outcomes set out in the strategy, and the actual level of resources required to do so.

Expected central programme budget expenditure in 2008-09 by the Department in support of the “Cancer Reform Strategy” is estimated at £8.6 million. Decisions on the split between central budgets and primary care trust allocations for later years have yet to be taken.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to monitor how (a) commissioners and (b) providers implement (i) advice, (ii) support and (iii) examples of best practice on (A) how to deliver high-quality, cost effective cancer services and (B) how cancer expenditure should be prioritised. (203613)

Commissioners of cancer services will be subject to the wider assurance system being developed under the World Class Commissioning Programme and managed by the strategic health authorities. The Healthcare Commission will also provide an independent assessment of provider and commissioner health care organisations to ensure that they are providing a high standard of care.

Primary care trusts are funded to meet the health care needs of their populations. It is for them to prioritise this expenditure in accordance with local needs.