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Cancer: Research

Volume 485: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much was spent on cancer research by the National Health Service in (a) 2001, (b) 2002, (c) 2003, (d) 2004, (e) 2005, (f) 2006 and (g) 2007; (243183)

(2) how much was spent on research into treatments for prostate cancer by the National Health Service in (a) 2001, (b) 2002, (c) 2003, (d) 2004, (e) 2005, (f) 2006 and (g) 2007;

(3) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of levels of funding dedicated to cancer research by the National Health Service;

(4) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of levels of funding provided for research into treatments for prostate cancer by the National Health Service;

(5) what plans he has for future levels of funding to the National Health Service for cancer research.

The Department's cancer research expenditure and the information available in respect of expenditure on prostate cancer research is shown in the following table.

£ million

All cancer research

Prostate cancer research

2001-02

113

2.4

2002-03

124

3.3

2003-04

140

4.6

2004-05

150

4.6

2005-06

168

4.91

2006-07

161

4.61

2007-08

159

Not available

Notes:

1. Includes some estimated spend figures.

The figures for prostate cancer relate to national research programmes. They do not include expenditure on prostate cancer research from the research and development allocations made over the period concerned to national health service organisations. That information is not held centrally.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is the other main agency through which the Government support biomedical research. The MRC is an independent body funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. It funds a large portfolio of cancer research. Since 2001, the major funders of cancer research in the UK, including the Department and the MRC, have worked in partnership to streamline cancer research in the UK for the benefit of cancer patients. This partnership, the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), has the role of maintaining strategic oversight of cancer research in the UK, identifying gaps and opportunities, and co-ordinating the funding activities of the partner organisations.

The NHS Prostate Cancer Programme published in September 2000 confirmed a substantial increase in Departmental funding for directly commissioned prostate cancer research. The annual levels of funding subsequently achieved represent a twenty-fold increase since 1999-2000. At the same time, a small number of centres of research excellence were established specifically to address the lack of critical mass in prostate cancer research. The work of these NCRI prostate cancer collaboratives is kept under regular review.

The usual practice of the Department's National Institute for Health Research and of the MRC is not to ring-fence funds for expenditure on particular topics: research proposals in all areas compete for the funding available. Future levels of expenditure on cancer research will be determined by the success of relevant bids for funding.