Cancer Outcomes

Health and Social Care – in the House of Commons on 19th July 2022.

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Photo of Nicola Richards Nicola Richards Conservative, West Bromwich East

What steps he is taking to improve cancer outcomes.

Photo of James Morris James Morris Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Government are focused on improving the early diagnosis of cancer in England to aid cancer outcome rates. That was set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, setting an ambition of seeing 75% of people diagnosed within stages one and two by 2028. Progress has continued on delivering the Long Term Plan. That includes increased investment and public awareness campaigns, rolling out targeted lung health checks, and introducing non-specific symptom pathways to speed up diagnosis.

Photo of Nicola Richards Nicola Richards Conservative, West Bromwich East

Very sadly, in April this year I lost my mum to a sudden diagnosis of secondary breast cancer in the liver, and so like many, I understand that cancer outcomes are not just statistics. In my constituency of West Bromwich East our outcomes are significantly poorer than the national average, and I know what that means for families. When will my hon. Friend publish the 10-year cancer plan, and confirm the levels of investment going into that?

Photo of James Morris James Morris Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

I am sure I speak for the whole House in expressing condolences to my hon. Friend for the loss of her mother. I know she is a doughty champion for addressing health inequalities in her constituency. While the publication of the 10-year cancer plan is under review, we remain committed to tackling inequalities and levelling up outcomes, experience and access. That is a key focus of the NHS Long Term Plan and 2022-23 planning guidance, and it remains a priority for the Government and the NHS cancer programme. Approaches to support that are embedded throughout the programme —for example, increased accessibility for the cancer quality of life survey, to help increase representation results and, as I mentioned, the targeted lung health check programme is focused on areas with high lung cancer mortality, where typically there are also high levels of deprivation.

Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Labour, Barnsley Central

Weston Park Cancer Centre provides outstanding cancer care for patients, not just in South Yorkshire but around the country. I met two previous Secretaries of State, and the outgoing Minister, to press the case for investment in the site, given that it is now 50 years old. Will the Minister please look at the case for investment in Weston Park, so that it can continue to provide outstanding care for patients around the country?

Photo of James Morris James Morris Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

I am very happy to meet the hon. Gentleman. We are investing further money—£350 million in diagnostics—and making efforts to address the backlog caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

Photo of Bim Afolami Bim Afolami Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden

Brain tumours kill more children than any other cancer. My constituent’s five-year-old granddaughter has a brain tumour. She, and many children like her, are being given chemotherapy drugs that were originally developed in the 1960s for adults, and we need more research into this. What can the Minister and the Government do to help accelerate research into paediatric brain tumours to save children such as my constituent’s granddaughter, and will the Minister meet me to discuss the case I have mentioned?

Photo of James Morris James Morris Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

That sounds like a very distressing constituency case. Obviously we are investing lots of money in research across the whole cancer spectrum, and I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the issue he raises.

Photo of Sarah Owen Sarah Owen Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Unprotected exposure to the sun can leave someone vulnerable to skin cancer, but as my constituent Tina, who suffers with melanoma, knows, the sun is not the only risk factor for skin cancer—sunbeds continue to be used all year round at very high risk. Does the Minister agree that it is time we took the dangers of sunbeds seriously? Does he support Melanoma UK’s campaign to ban the use of sunbeds, and if not, why not?

Photo of James Morris James Morris Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Obviously, given the weather that we are experiencing at the moment, issues to do with melanoma are particularly high on the priority list. I am happy to meet the hon. Lady to discuss the specific issues that she has raised in relation to sunbeds.