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Cancer Centres: Radiation Therapy

Volume 677: debated on Tuesday 23 June 2020

If he will publish the timetable for the NHS England plan to roll out stereotactic ablative radiotherapy to all cancer centres by April 2021. (903688)

I thank the hon. Gentleman and the other members of the all-party group on radiotherapy and cancer for meeting me and officials recently. It is expected that each of the 50 NHS trusts that provide radiotherapy will be able to deliver stereotactic ablative radiotherapy no later than 31 March 2021. Increased external quality assurance capacity means that we could complete the roll-out process for all commissioned indications quicker than that. I am sure the hon. Gentleman would agree that such a result would be fantastic.

I very much welcome the Minister’s response and thank her personally for her excellent attention to this matter and the progress that she has helped to make possible. Of course, with a 60% drop in the number of cancer referrals and a 20% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment, we have late diagnoses and a backlog that could, tragically, kill more people than covid. Will the Minister therefore go further and faster and deploy expanded radiotherapy treatment this summer to clear the backlog? Will she commit to appointing a radiotherapy tsar and to a rolling radiotherapy fund, so that we can stop more lives being unnecessarily lost?

The hon. Gentleman will know which parts of that are still open for discussion between us, but we are of course driving hard to make sure that patients get their radiotherapy and treatment as quickly as they can. The NHS has a “Help Us Help You” campaign: it is open for business and people should make sure that they attend any appointment they are called to.