Cancer Strategy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 8th December 2016.

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Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill Conservative, Bury St Edmunds 4:20 pm, 8th December 2016

I agree with my hon. Friend. People who are diagnosed with metastatic cancers—not only of the breast, but across the piece—feel like they are dropping through the cracks. They do not necessarily get a clinical nurse specialist, so that is another area for the specialist workforce to address. We need to make sure that we catch people on the journey, because it may be iterative. People may feel fit and well, but then find that they have to use the services again, so our approach needs to be flexible.

My hon. Friend has mentioned the importance of the ecosystem of research, hospitals and patients. My hon. Friend the Member for Crawley works hard with the Bloodwise charity, which is truly emblematic of an empowering organisation that works with the patient, clinician and researcher to help drive understanding. That is one way of giving UK plc a huge advantage. The hon. Member for Strangford has said that we need to look at the ecosystem, which is not just about cancer treatment at the end, but about researchers, universities, those brilliant students and staff whom we welcome from Europe and everyone in the pharmaceutical industry and charities working collaboratively to get the best outcome possible. That is how we will start to rise up the table and be as good as Sweden and other countries whose patients have truly fantastic outcomes.

Timely interventions can help recovery. I want to understand how recovery packages are being rolled out, because the issue of the workforce is critical.

David Tredinnick has mentioned alternative therapies, which can be useful, but this is a space in which charities can help people. Only this week, the Countryside Alliance Foundation took women who have received treatment fly-fishing. They find that the experience of being outside, doing something physical and enjoying nature gives them a huge sense of wellbeing. Personally, I do not think that it is a question of either/or; it is a question of joining them together.

Finally, I know that this is not the Minister’s area, but I would like him to take it back with him. I welcome the cancer drugs fund, but I am worried about those who benefit from combined treatments. Melanoma Focus has said that people on combined treatments may be disadvantaged, because not all of them will have access to the cancer drugs fund. I hope that the fund will be flexible and that the matter will be addressed.