Non-Invasive Precision Cancer Therapies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:06 pm on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington 4:06 pm, 18th July 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
recognises the vital role that radiotherapy plays in cancer treatment across the UK with an estimated one in four people needing that treatment at some stage of their life;
notes that there is a significant body of expert opinion that up to 24,000 people may be missing out on the radiotherapy they need, resulting in many hundreds of unnecessary or premature deaths;
further notes that the UK spend on radiotherapy as a percentage of the overall cancer budget is approximately five per cent which compares badly with most other advanced economies where the percentage varies from nine per cent to 11 per cent;
notes that the current commissioning system for radiotherapy is sub-optimal as exemplified by a tariff regime which discourages NHS Trusts from implementing advanced modern effective radiotherapy;
calls on the Government to provide an immediate up-front £250 million investment in the service, an ongoing extra £100 million per annum investment in personnel and skills and IT, and to introduce a sustainably, centrally and fully funded rolling programme for Linac machine replacements;
and further calls on the Government to appoint a single person to oversee the commissioning and implementation of radiotherapy services.

I thank the Backbench Business Committee and its Chair, my hon. Friend Ian Mearns, for granting this debate, and all the Members on both sides of the House who supported the application. I must declare an interest as one of the vice-chairs of the all-party group on radiotherapy, and also as a cancer survivor—[Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] Thank you. Thanks to early diagnosis, I was successfully treated with both chemotherapy and, crucially, precision radiotherapy.

I want to point out to the Minister that there is currently a crisis—there is no other word for it—in the management and funding of radiotherapy in the United Kingdom. Indeed, the charity Action Radiotherapy estimates that as many as 20,000 people across the UK may be missing out on the radiotherapy they need. Many of these patients will die prematurely or unnecessarily as a result of this shortfall. Given that one in four people receives some form of radiotherapy during their lives, and that almost half of us in the United Kingdom will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lifetimes, I hope the Government will realise just how important it is that we invest in modern and, importantly, accessible cancer diagnosis—and not just in diagnosis, but in cancer treatments.