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Cancer Targets — [Mr Gary Streeter in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 1st May 2018.

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Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay 2:30 pm, 1st May 2018

I am sure that the Minister has taken that on board and I look forward to his comments. It goes without saying that the earlier we diagnose, the more money we save, which could then be ploughed back into frontline cancer services. We need to try to quantify that, and we are nowhere close to doing that at the moment.

That is why, in conclusion, I come back to the point that we need to take a longer term view on our plans for cancer care—longer term funding and thinking. Process targets actually act against that, because the focus is on specific issues, which can skew priorities, particularly when they are associated with funding. In the end, that has proven not to be in the best interests of patients, given our failure to catch up with international averages. Outcome measures retain the focus on accountability, which quite rightly governs our health service. They provide the best of both worlds: they encourage long-term thinking and long-term funding, while at the same time we as politicians rightly have to hold the NHS accountable. We are talking about £115 billion to £120 billion of taxpayers’ money. We have to ensure that there is the element of accountability in the system, but that is where outcome indicators could be very helpful.

One cannot cover everything in a debate such as this. I am glad that the HPV issue will be given a proper airing in tomorrow’s debate. I think that the vaccine should be extended to boys. I also think that the big issue of prevention is important. Healthier lifestyles make for lower cancer risks, but this specific debate is about targets. It has been a helpful debate and I thank everyone for their interventions. I look forward to other contributions and to the Minister’s comments at the conclusion.