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Cancer Targets — [Mr Gary Streeter in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:00 pm on 1st May 2018.

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Photo of Karen Lee Karen Lee Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Fire) 3:00 pm, 1st May 2018

I do not want to repeat a lot of what Mr Baron has said because he has already said some of what I was going to say. I am here because when I was elected I was asked by Breast Cancer Now to be an ambassador and I readily agreed. I will highlight a few things on its behalf.

Breast Cancer Now says that, although some CCGs meet diagnosis and detection targets, there are national geographical inequalities in the provision of care, and diagnosis and detection are taking priority over treatment for secondary breast cancer, which is an issue. Transformation funding has been mentioned, and Breast Cancer Now feels that such funding must be decoupled from waiting time targets immediately.

My CCG is failing to hit the targets, which means it does not get the funding. If it is failing to meet the targets, how will withholding the money make things any better? I want the Government to tell us how that makes things any better. I understand about targets and measures, but how does not giving CCGs money to treat people properly make things any better?

NHS cancer targets have tended to focus on early detection and diagnosis, which means there is less focus and resource allocated to supporting people after they have finished treatment and are living with secondary cancers. One in four people find that the end of their treatment is the hardest part and they do not always have access to a clinical nurse specialist. My daughter did not. Things moved fast for my daughter. She was diagnosed and died within 13 months. She was just 35 and she left a husband and three children behind. To get her back into hospital was an absolute nightmare. I knew all the right things to say to get her into hospital and I finally managed it, but the support was not there. People try and do their best, but the support was not right and it was not good enough. The treatment for secondary breast cancer is not good enough and that really needs to be looked at.

Every cancer patient coming to the end of their treatment should have a recovery package. A clearer picture of progress on the availability of health and wellbeing events for people living with and beyond breast cancer across England is urgently needed. The Government, as the agency that ultimately decides how our NHS is run, must deliver on that and answer for that.

I was asked to mention the collection of data and access to clinical nurse specialists, because there has been no progress. Breast Cancer Care’s 2015 research showed that only a third of NHS trusts were collecting full data on secondary breast cancer, and three quarters of NHS trusts and health boards say there is not enough specialist nursing care available. People with secondary breast cancer feel they are second rate. Lynsey used to say that. She said, “It was all right, Mum, when I was having chemo and radiotherapy and everybody was buzzing round me, but now there is nothing. There is no support at all.”

I spoke on Breast Cancer Now’s 2050 vision in Parliament a couple of months ago. If we all act now, by 2050 everybody who develops breast cancer will live, and I really hope that that happens.