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Prostate Cancer

Volume 621: debated on Tuesday 7 February 2017

13. What proportion of prostate cancer patients wait for more than two months to begin cancer treatment after the hospital has received an urgent GP referral. (908634)

The national standard is that we expect 85% of all cancer patients to receive initial treatment within two months of an urgent referral. For cancer overall, the most recent data indicate that we achieve 82%, and for prostate cancer around 78%, against that standard. The lower figure for prostate is due to the fact that the pathways are more complex than average.

I am disappointed by the figures, but at least they are available. When I asked this as a written question last month, the information was not available, nor was information available about the number of vacancies for prostate cancer surgeons, their training or the equipment that they use, because that information, I am told, is not collected centrally. When will the Department collect adequate information to run the health service properly?

More information was published on cancer by clinical commissioning groups since the back end of last year than at any time in the history of the NHS. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman is right to say that prostate is grouped with neurological cancers in general, and that is the type of surgeon being employed. But the fact is that the Government have been incredibly transparent in terms of information published on cancers.

Last Saturday was World Cancer Day. The theme was unity, and I am still wearing my unity band with pride. We must do all we can to beat cancer, yet the Government are coming to their three-year anniversary of not meeting the 62-day wait target. Treatment quickly after diagnosis is crucial for tackling all cancers. Will the Minister outline what he is doing to ensure that that target is once again met so that patients receive timely treatment?

The volume has increased greatly, and there are something like 2,000 more people being diagnosed every day. The hon. Lady is right: of the eight cancer standards against which we judge ourselves, we meet seven, and the 62-day one has not been met. We need to do more to achieve that, and the cancer strategy set out a pathway for doing so. We have particularly invested in the early diagnosis component; we have invested £200 million in early diagnosis and getting a 31-day all-clear or referral for treatment. That is the pathway to meeting the 62-day target. She is right to raise this, because it is an important indicator and we need to do better.