Health and Social Care Bill — Report (3rd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:30 pm on 27th February 2012.

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Photo of Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Baroness Morgan of Drefelin Crossbench 9:30 pm, 27th February 2012

My Lords, I rise briefly to support Amendment 50A in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, and the noble Lord, Lord Patel, and Amendment 63A in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. We need to be clear that the role of NICE in our health system is extremely important. It plays a pivotal role in helping the system to understand innovation, and it is extremely important in promoting fairness. At a time of very tight resources, it would be good to have the role of NICE clearly set out in the Bill. I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, talked about the reputation of NICE and the role that it plays in facilitating audit and many other things. For me, however, it is about making sure that we have fairness across the NHS in England, and NICE is key in ensuring that that happens for patients.

I want to comment briefly on Amendment 63A. Others have talked about the concerns of the Neurological Alliance. I speak as the honorary President of Cancer52, which represents people affected by rare cancers. The majority of cancer deaths in this country occur because of rare cancers. We know that if a person is diagnosed with a rare cancer, they have often had to really fight through the system, visiting GPs many more times than those with the more common cancers which people call the "big four". Oesophageal, pancreatic and ovarian cancer, for example, are conditions of which GPs have very little experience. There is a great deal to be done in the NHS to improve outcomes for people diagnosed with what are often called less common or rarer cancers, but which are a group of conditions which account for more than 50 per cent of all cancer deaths. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, is right to say that we should be encouraging commissioners to ensure that, where rare conditions are concerned, there is collaboration and knowledge and experience sharing so that they do the right things for patients, regardless of how common their condition may be.