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Cancer Survival Rates (Data)

Volume 569: debated on Tuesday 22 October 2013

15. For what reasons the publication of data on one-year and five-year survival rates for all cancers within the Clinical Commissioning Group Outcomes Indicator Set has been deferred until March 2014. (900597)

I am aware of delays in the availability of source data at a local level. For that reason, it is not possible to publish data on one-year and five-year survival rates for all cancers before March 2014. I know that my hon. Friend is frustrated by this and that he has done a lot of work on this issue as the chair of the all-party group, but I am sure he will agree that it is better to have accurate information to make these vital clinical judgments.

The Minister will be aware that the all-party group on cancer has campaigned long and hard for the monitoring of the one-year and five-year survival rates as a driver for earlier diagnosis—cancer’s magic key. What assurances can she give that the March 2014 deadline will be met and that appropriate action will be taken against those CCGs that underperform?

We have spoken to NHS England, which has advised me that it is not aware of any reason to think that the March 2014 will not be met. As my hon. Friend knows, however, the day-to-day management of CCGs is a matter for NHS England, and I am sure he would not approve of Ministers trying to micro-manage CCGs from Whitehall. His strength of feeling is clear, and I am happy to have an ongoing dialogue with him and the all-party group on this matter.

Having heard the Minister’s answer on survival rates and the importance of early diagnosis, may I ask her whether cancer patients in need of life-saving treatment recommended by their clinicians who have waited for more than two weeks because of the commissioners’ delay in agreeing funding have the legal right to insist on being treated once they have gone past the two-week deadline? If so, how would they do that?

If my hon. Friend will allow me, we will perhaps need a separate conversation. I am happy to meet her afterwards to discuss the matter she has raised.