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Cancer Outcomes (Accountability)

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2011

3. What arrangements he plans to put in place to ensure clinical commissioning groups are held accountable for their performance in respect of cancer outcomes. (65108)

The first NHS outcomes framework includes a number of outcomes relevant to people with cancer. For example, domain 1, on preventing people from dying prematurely, includes progress in improving one-year and five-year survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers. A number of indicators will also be relevant to patients with cancer, such as health-related quality of life for people with long-term conditions, and improving the experience of care for people at the end of their lives. Clinical commissioning groups will be held to account for their contributions to improving those national outcomes through the commissioning outcomes framework.

The all-party group on cancer and others lobbied for a greater focus on outcomes, but the one-year and five-year cancer survival rates may now be less statistically robust, as CCGs cover smaller population sizes than primary care trusts. Will the Government therefore give added priority to the excellent work of the National Cancer Intelligence Network in producing a set of evidence-based process measures to complement, not replace, other evidence so that CCGs can be held accountable?

The House will know of my hon. Friend’s consistent support, through the all-party group, for patients with cancer. I entirely agree that a number of proxy measures and process measures will be relevant in the context of the commissioning outcomes framework. There may be measures that are attributable to CCGs individually in some respects. For example, the quality of life of people living with long-term conditions, to which I referred, would be relevant to a small population. For other measures, however, it may be appropriate for the CCGs to be held to account at the level of, for example, a cancer network, using cancer registry data.

The considerable improvement and focus on breast, lung and bowel cancer is very welcome, but groups campaigning on prostate and ovarian cancer are extremely worried about both the lack of update guidance and the failure to reverse premature death, especially in ovarian cancer, over the last 30 years. Has the Secretary of State anything new to tell us about the direction in these areas?

The right hon. Gentleman will doubtless be aware that we published a quality standard for ovarian cancer, and that the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Burstow), published the outcomes strategy for cancer, which will have been relevant to many of the issues to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. I continue to look forward to the results of a major trial on screening for ovarian cancer, but I am afraid that I anticipate that we shall not be able to see the results and recommendations for nearly three years.