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Cancer Survival Measurement

Volume 515: debated on Tuesday 7 September 2010

I have received many helpful representations on the proposed one-year survival measure, including his own when I met him along with a number of leading cancer charities in July. We have launched a full public consultation to shape the first ever outcomes framework for the NHS, and I urge all interested parties to contribute. The consultation document has put forward a range of possible outcome measures, including a one-year cancer survival rate that could be included in the framework. A full response to the consultation will be provided when it closes on 11 October.

The one-year cancer survival measure is welcome, because it will encourage earlier diagnosis. As the Minister will know, however, under-treatment of the elderly in the NHS remains a pressing problem, which was highlighted in a recent report on cancer inequalities by the all-party parliamentary group on cancer. Can he assure us that the over-75s will not be excluded from the one-year or the five-year cancer survival measures once they are constructed?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. It is essential for us to ensure that the NHS delivers treatments that are both based on evidence and age-appropriate, which means ensuring that older people receive treatments that will enable them to survive cancers. His representations will need to be taken fully into account as we consider the results of the consultation on the outcomes framework.

Has the Minister seen today’s report from Cancer Research UK? It suggests that many primary care trusts and hospitals focus on drug therapy, and that radiotherapy—particularly targeted and image-guided radiotherapy—is often not given enough priority. Can the Minister assure us that, when considering cancer drugs expenditure, he will give equal priority to radiotherapy treatment?

The hon. Gentleman’s question is also relevant to surgery, but Cancer Research UK was right to produce this snapshot of the lamentable record of the last Government on access to radiotherapy. Spending on the NHS has now reached European levels, but we have not seen an equivalent achievement in terms of outcomes. That is why the present Government have been consulting on outcomes, and why we have asked Mike Richards, clinical director for cancer services, to examine these very issues in his review of the cancer reform strategy.