Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Cancer Targets — [Mr Gary Streeter in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:42 pm on 1st May 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 3:42 pm, 1st May 2018

Nice try. We always said that addressing child obesity was chapter 1 and therefore the start of a conversation. There are a lot of things within that plan that we are still to do, or in the middle of doing. For instance, Public Health England will shortly publish the initial results of the sugar tax on soft drinks—the industry levy—and we said that we would watch that tax very closely, to see whether we needed to continue the conversation. The hon. Lady will also know that there have been lots of discussions in this Chamber and in the main Chamber about advertising, “buy one, get one free”, labelling and reformulation. As she knows, I am very interested in said agenda and I watch these things like the proverbial hawk. So I thank her for raising that issue.

I always enjoy listening to the hon. Member for Scunthorpe; he speaks so well and I see him at so many different events in this House. He mentioned the cancer dashboard and blood—or non-solid—cancers. He knows that I agree with him; it is something that I am looking at very closely with officials and with NHS England. I also pay tribute to the work that he does on pancreatic cancer. I met one of the pancreatic cancer charities with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health last week—or was it the week before last? Time flies.

The hon. Gentleman talked about the survival figures for pancreatic cancer, and they are terrible in comparison with those for other cancers. However, sometimes we have to recognise that there is an enormous challenge with pancreatic cancer, in that it is very hard to diagnose because often it is not symptomatic until its latter stages. That is one of the reasons why I was very interested in the 16-day referral to surgery pathway that he talked about and the challenge that he identified within his cancer alliance. My officials will have heard what he said, and I will take it away and consider it, because it is a really important point.

Justin Madders, who is the shadow Minister, asked about the cancer strategy and the next update to it. It is not a “three year on” update, but the next update will be in the autumn of this year. I was glad to hear his welcome for the first ever cancer workforce plan, which Health Education England published in December. It sets out how we will expand the workforce numbers. Just last week, I was with Harpal Kumar of Cancer Research UK before he steps down, and we were talking about the critical importance of that plan. I, too, would have liked to have seen it sooner, but we are committed to training 746 more cancer consultants and 1,890 more diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers by 2021.

I was at the Royal College of Radiographers annual dinner last week in London, and its members did not miss an opportunity to make the case to me about the workforce. The cancer workforce plan is a really positive innovation, and I look forward to working with HEE and my colleagues as we take it forward.

I said in this place this morning that cancer is a huge priority for this Government, and I think that everyone in here knows it is a priority for me. Yes, survival rates have never been higher. Our latest figures showed an estimated 7,000 more people surviving cancer after successful NHS treatment compared to three years earlier, and our aim is to save 30,000 more lives by 2020. However, we know that there is a huge amount still to do, and that is why we accepted the 96 recommendations in the cancer strategy and have backed that up with the £600 million of additional funding up to 2021.

Two years into the implementation of the strategy, we are making progress, as I said in the Backbench Business debate that my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon and Billericay secured in February. I hear what he says about standards and targets, and in some part I agree, but they are only part of the story. The alliances are not targets; they are about pathways and best practice—not just learning best practice but implementing it. The NHS is very good at sharing best practice, but perhaps not always brilliant at implementing it. The example given by the hon. Member for Scunthorpe about the pancreatic pathway—