Cancer Treatment Backlogs: Derbyshire and England

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons at on 19 April 2022.

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Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Shadow Minister (Education)

What recent assessment he has made of the scale of the backlog in cancer treatments in (a) Derbyshire and (b) England.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Cancer treatment and diagnosis remained a top priority throughout the pandemic, with 4.4 million urgent referrals during the period and over 1 million people receiving cancer treatment. Thanks to the brilliant work of our NHS staff, first treatments for cancer have been maintained at above 94% of usual levels over the course of the pandemic. However, we know that fewer people came forward, so we are now seeing record numbers of people coming through the system, with November last year having the highest number of 11,000 cancer referrals per working day.

Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Shadow Minister (Education)

I asked specifically about Derbyshire, but I did not get an answer. Derbyshire clinical commissioning group has failed to reach any of the cancer referral targets for the most recent 12 months. Although this is a national failure, the shortages are particularly acute in Derbyshire. These failures have tragic consequences. My constituent Paul Bryan is just 58. He has been attending his surgery for two years; he kept getting dismissed and was not tested, and now the prostate cancer that was undiagnosed for all that time has spread to his ribs, spine and bones, and his diagnosis is terminal. His family are urging the Government to show more urgency to improve outcomes, so that other families do not have to experience such needless heartbreak. Will the Minister explain to the Bryans why the Government rejected the workforce planning amendment to the Health and Care Bill that could have helped our NHS get the cancer specialists it needs and prevented heartbreak like the Bryans in other families?

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

I am sorry to hear about the case of the Bryan family, but I reassure the hon. Gentleman that, in Derby and Derbyshire, 92% of treatments start within 30 days, despite record numbers of patients coming forward. To tackle the issue of getting people diagnosed earlier, which is key to getting more successful treatment, we are rolling out rapid diagnostic centres across the country so that people can access screening and testing much more quickly and easily. We have 159 of those live right now, with more to follow.