Non-Invasive Precision Cancer Therapies

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:56 pm on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington 4:56 pm, 18th July 2019

I thank the Minister for that considered and helpful response. I can assure her that the spirit of our contributions, and of the all-party parliamentary group, is intended to help, not to hinder progress. We certainly give her credit for the aspiration to improve cancer outcomes and to see a first-class service. We want to see that in all parts of the United Kingdom.

I thank all Members who participated in the debate. Gillian Keegan highlighted the perverse incentives, which have been identified in the all-party parliamentary group’s inquiries. Tim Farron mentioned the satellite centres and the number of people being denied life-saving therapy. My hon. Friend—my dear friend—Kate Hollern, in a deeply moving contribution, talked of her personal experience. My hon. Friend Chris Bryant talked about the importance of workforce planning and early diagnosis. My hon. Friend Liz McInnes also mentioned workforce issues. My hon. Friend Jeff Smith talked about the exciting developments in proton beam therapy at the Christie Hospital. My hon. Friend Paula Sherriff gave an excellent response on behalf of the Opposition.

I also want to thank all the staff involved in delivering cancer services. We value the contribution they make—each and every one of them—and we are absolutely dedicated to ensuring that the issues we have raised here are followed through.

I have one point to make on tariffs and perverse incentives. As part of our efforts we have met extensively with NHS England. Addressing that is potentially a quick win for the Government, because it would not involve evaluating new techniques and could be done quickly. My suspicion is that NHS England does not intend to implement that for some time—in years rather than months—so I hope that the Minister will take that up immediately.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

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 suboptimal 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.