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Health written question – answered on 24th January 2011.

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Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the average time a cancer patient will wait from diagnosis to an appointment with a specialist in (a) 2011 and (b) 2012.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time is for a patient to see a cancer specialist in (a) Wirral primary care trust, (b) primary care trusts in the North West and (c) England.

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow The Minister of State, Department of Health

"Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer", published on 12 January, has confirmed that the current cancer waiting time standards are clinically justified and should be retained. This follows a full review of the evidence base supporting cancer waiting times. A copy of the Strategy has already been placed in the Library.

In the most recent period for which statistics are available (Quarter Two 2010-11), 95% of patients in England urgently referred with suspected cancer by their general practitioner (GP) were seen by a specialist within two weeks. For primary care trusts (PCTs) in the North West, this figure was 95.8% and for patients served by Wirral PCT the figure was 97.6%. In England, 98.4% of patients were treated 31 days from diagnosis to first treatment for all cancers.

The NHS Constitution includes the right to see a specialist within two weeks of urgent GP referral, where cancer is suspected, or for the NHS to take all reasonable steps to offer a range of alternative providers where this is not possible. "The Operating Framework for the NHS in England 2011-12" confirms that patient rights under the constitution remain in place.

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