Non-Invasive Precision Cancer Therapies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:49 pm on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Seema Kennedy Seema Kennedy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 4:49 pm, 18th July 2019

I want to begin by thanking Grahame Morris for introducing the debate and all Members who have spoken today, particularly Kate Hollern, who spoke movingly about her late partner, John. His example lives on through his two beautiful daughters—my beautiful cousins—who, too, have dedicated their lives to public service. I am happy to reassure all Members that I am very happy to meet the all-party group—fingers crossed—and if I fail to address any of the points made today, I will try to address them at that meeting.

Cancer is a priority for this Government, and we have got survival rates up over the last 10 years, but there is a lot more to do. In the long-term plan, we state our aim to have 55,000 more people surviving cancer for five years by 2028. Four in 10 NHS cancer patients are treated with radiotherapy, so clearly radiotherapy is a really important part of the mix. I did not know about that until I met members of the APPG. I want to thank them for the manifesto that they presented to me, which I have read with interest and am happy to respond to.

NHS England announced a £130 million fund, which the hon. Member for Easington mentioned, to start a programme of modernising LINACs and giving patients access to leading-edge technology, regardless of geography. I will come on to the specific point raised by Tim Farron, because we share Rosemere as a cancer centre.

Since 2016, we have seen more than 80 machines either upgraded or replaced, with the aim of giving cancer patients access to the latest technology, regardless of where they live. The long-term plan specifically promises

“Faster, smarter and effective radiotherapy”,

with an aim of providing curative treatment, with fewer side effects and shorter waiting times.

Members mentioned the facilities at the Christie Hospital. Some of my constituents go there as well. The good thing is that previously some people had to leave the country, but at least now people are able to be treated in this country. The first treatment was last December. Work continues on the University College London Hospitals proton beam therapy centre, which we hope will be opened next year.