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Cancer: Waiting Lists

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the NHS's radiotherapy capacity to meet the 31-day waiting time target for cancer patients; and what plans he has to increase the NHS's radiotherapy capacity; (201173)

(2) whether he plans to expand the scope of the 31-day waiting time target for radiotherapy from initial to all treatment.

As set out in the ‘Cancer Reform Strategy’, published in December 2007, the 31-day standard will be extended to cover all cancer treatments not just the initial treatment. It also acknowledges that this extension will have an impact on radiotherapy services where increased capacity will be needed if NHS trusts are to meet the extended 31-day standard. Copies of the strategy are available in the Library.

The most recent assessment of radiotherapy was undertaken by the National Radiotherapy Advisory Group as part of their report to Ministers. ‘Radiotherapy: developing a world class service for England’, was published in May 2007. Copies of this document are available in the Library. The report set out recommendations for improving productivity of existing radiotherapy services and for planning the increase in capacity over the coming years. These recommendations were considered as part of the development of the ‘Cancer Reform Strategy’, which makes clear that local investment will be needed in both equipment and work force in order to deliver a world class radiotherapy service.