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Older People (Cancer Care)

Volume 531: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2011

We are working with Macmillan Cancer Support and Age UK on a £1 million programme to improve cancer care for older people. The programme consists of 13 pilot sites across the country to improve intervention rates for people over 70 who have a cancer diagnosis. Pilots will introduce new ways of assessing older people for cancer treatment, offer short-term, practical support for older people undergoing cancer treatment and will address any age discrimination in cancer services by identifying and addressing the training needs of all professionals working with older people.

I am sure that the Minister will have seen the report published today by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, which reiterates the considerable research showing that older lung cancer patients do not receive the same level of treatment as younger lung cancer patients. In fact, it shows that a 60-year-old sufferer is six times more likely to be given surgery than an 80-year-old sufferer, which obviously means that their outcomes are considerably worse. How does the Minister explain that inequality and how can it be tackled?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for highlighting that further piece of evidence that shows why the Government have already given a commitment to ensure that there are no exemptions for the NHS from the application of our duties in respect of age discrimination, as there should be no place for age discrimination in the NHS. In addition, the work we are doing with Macmillan Cancer Support and Age UK is the way forward to ensure that we learn the lessons and drive up standards for the care of older people.