NHS Blood Cancer Care

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:09 pm on 17th January 2018.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 3:09 pm, 17th January 2018

My hon. Friend has mentioned a supreme example. That is something that we all welcome in Northern Ireland, and indeed across the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I have been contacted by Myeloma UK, which asked me to highlight its cause and needs. I am happy to do so in Westminster Hall and for the Hansard record. Some 5,500 new cases of myeloma are diagnosed in the UK every year, which equates to 15 people a day. Although myeloma is a rare cancer, it is the second most prevalent blood cancer, which has no cure as such. It is important to highlight that in Westminster Hall today and with the Minister.

In the past 10 years, with improvements in treatment and care, survival rates are increasing faster than in most other cancers, so there is some good progress, but there is a long way to go. Myeloma remains a very challenging cancer to live with and to treat. To truly get to grips with that cancer means dedicating funding to finding the cure, but also providing a quality of life for those who suffer from it.

In our debates on cancer the one thing that always comes up is early diagnosis. Whether it is prostate cancer, breast cancer, myeloma or bowel cancer, getting it early is the secret. I mentioned us menfolk earlier and how we respond to things. Maybe we need to be a bit more eager to tell our doctor when things are wrong with us. I commend the many charities and groups such as Marie Curie and Macmillan. Along with those charities we also have many church groups and organisations that help and give succour and support to families at a time when one of their loved ones is very ill.

Another issue is that of the 100-day care by NHS England after treatment, which must be reconsidered to ensure that there are no gaps in service, as has been highlighted by the Anthony Nolan trust. The Minister is nodding; I know that he and others in this Chamber are aware of that. The briefing that was provided made it clear that the steps taken by the Government have been welcome, and yet more leeway is needed to allow complete care packages to be in place. If that means going over the magic number of 100 days, there needs to be a mechanism that allows that to take place. Will the Minister fully consider that request—I know he will—and provide a detailed response outlining his decision as to whether the extension of care before transfer to local CCGs can be achieved?

I believe we can make decisions in this place, in this House, in Westminster Hall, in the House of Commons and across the whole of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland that will allow blood cancer sufferers to have a better prognosis and a better treatment plan. We must do all that we can to bring that about.