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Cancer: Screening

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effects of expansion in cancer screening programmes on demand for the services of pathology laboratories; and what steps he is taking to monitor the capacity of Government laboratories to support such screening. (202736)

The extensions to the national health service cancer screening programmes outlined in the “Cancer Reform Strategy” are national requirements within the “Operating Framework. For the NHS in England 2008-09” as set out in “Operational Plans 2008-09 to 2010-11 (Implementing the 2008-09 Operating Framework, National planning Guidance and ‘vital signs’.)”, published on 31 January 2008. Primary care trust (PCT) operational plans will need to reflect the requirements, including the demand for the services of pathology laboratories. It is for strategic health authorities working in partnership with their PCTs, local screening services and stakeholders to provide appropriate cancer screening services for their local populations, including appropriate pathology services.

The Independent Review of NHS Pathology Services in England, chaired by Lord Carter of Coles, was set up in 2005, and published an interim report in 2006. The review is expected to make recommendations which build on those in its interim report, for example on the configuration of pathology services, workforce modernisation and information technology connectivity, to achieve greater efficiency and enable pathology services to meet increasing demand.