Premature Mortality

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 26th February 2013.

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Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley 11:30 am, 26th February 2013

What steps he has taken to support research on the most common causes of premature mortality.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

We are still far too low in the European league tables for premature mortality, particularly in respect of cancer, liver disease and respiratory diseases. I have therefore made improving our performance a key priority.

Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

Can the Minister say a little more about what is being done to prevent early mortality as a result of heart disease?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

We are investing £34 million in cardiovascular research. Much excellent work is being done at, in particular, the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, which will help us to make great strides.

Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay

It is widely accepted that late diagnosis of cancer makes for premature mortality. Will the Government recommend the inclusion of proxy measures such as staging and accident and emergency admissions in the outcomes indicator set, as a way of complementing the one and five-year survival measures? That would give us a more complete picture of how CCGs are performing in encouraging earlier diagnosis.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his campaigning. No sooner do we agree to the inclusion of one indicator in relation to early cancer diagnosis than he finds another that should also be included.

I will certainly consider the issue that my hon. Friend has raised, but I think that there is a broader question about the role of GPs. They should see themselves as being in the front line when it comes to early diagnosis of not just people who walk through the doors of their surgeries, but people in their communities who are at high risk. That is a much more fundamental change that we need to think about.