One-year Cancer Survival Rates

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 10th June 2014.

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Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay 11:30 am, 10th June 2014

What assessment he has made of the role of the comprehensive delivery dashboard in holding clinical commissioning groups accountable for their one-year cancer survival rates.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

NHS England uses a range of data, as my hon. Friend will know, including data from the delivery dashboard, to assess the performance of CCGs. That includes the data from the composite cancer one-year survival indicators. NHS England will take action— it has quarterly assurance meetings between area teams and CCGs—if there are concerns about CCGs’ performance.

Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay

May I suggest to the Minister that if the Government are to meet their target of saving an additional 5,000 lives a year and to promote diagnosis, we need to hold underperforming CCGs to account. Why is it, then, that the one-year survival rates, which are designed to promote earlier diagnosis, are not in the delivery dashboard, which, unlike the outcomes indicator set, has teeth, particularly given that CCG chief executives have said that they see no reason why the one-year figures could not be included in the dashboard?

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

We will certainly look at that, but I emphasise that all those things are important as part of the conversation between area teams and CCGs. I remind the House that the CCG outcome indicators set for 2014-15 include a range of important indicators for cancer, including one-year survival for all cancers, one-year survival for breast, lung and colorectal cancers combined, cancers diagnosed via emergency routes, and cancers diagnosed at an early stage—something I know my hon. Friend has, quite rightly, championed consistently in this House.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)

Does the Minister agree that the inclusion of more innovative drugs in the NHS medicine cabinet is essential for improvements in one-year cancer survival rates? Does she also agree that information shared between the devolved Assemblies, such as the Northern Ireland Assembly, is a vital part of that process of improvement?

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

We want people in England to have the best cancer outcomes, and to bring those outcomes up to the best in Europe. We know we are not there yet, but we have done a range of things to try to make that happen, including putting a lot of money into early diagnostics. In my area of public health there are award-winning public campaigns such as Be Clear on Cancer, and I know that the cancer drugs fund has been appreciated by many people. I hear what the hon. Gentleman says about the Northern Ireland example.

Photo of Sarah Wollaston Sarah Wollaston Conservative, Totnes

High-quality data will play an essential role in improving cancer outcomes. Will the Minister confirm that NHS England has addressed the concerns raised about the care.data programme, and that we are on track for a successful roll-out?

Photo of Jamie Reed Jamie Reed Shadow Minister (Health)

Last month, for the first time ever the NHS missed a target for beginning cancer treatment within 62 days of patients being urgently referred. Cancer Research UK stated:

“This isn’t just a missed target—some patients are being failed,”.

We know that the key to ensuring that more people survive cancer is to start treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis. Is it not shocking that cancer charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK now say that cancer is being overlooked in this Prime Minister’s national health service?

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

We all appreciate the wonderful work done by cancer charities such as Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK, and the Department works closely with those charities. We want outcomes for cancer patients in England to be among the best in Europe. As I said, we know we are not there yet, but a great deal of effort and money is going into getting there. The NHS is treating more cancer patients than ever. Since 2009, we have seen numbers rise by 15%—that is 1,000 more patients with suspected cancer referred to a specialist every day. That is the success of some of the early diagnosis and awareness raising activity. Of course we want any local dips in performance to be addressed, but let us give credit where it is due to clinicians who are diagnosing more cancers and catching them earlier, because that is the key to treating cancer successfully.