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Radiotherapy

Health written question – answered on 2nd November 2011.

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Photo of Tessa Munt Tessa Munt Liberal Democrat, Wells

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 10 October 2011, Official Report, column 310W, on radiotherapy,

(1) and with reference to the first annual report of the radiotherapy dataset, if he will take steps to increase the allocation of resources for radiotherapy treatment to Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire;

(2) and with reference to the National Radiotherapy Implementation Group report, Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy Treatment (SBRT) Guidelines for Commissioners, Providers and Clinicians in England 2011, for what reasons his Department considers there are insufficient patients with early stage inoperable lung cancer each year to introduce a national SBRT lung cancer tariff;

(3) what guidance he has provided to commissioners on spending the additional funding for the expansion of radiotherapy capacity;

(4) for what reasons the additional funding is not ring-fenced for the purpose of expanding radiotherapy treatment.

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

“Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer”, published in January 2011, set out our commitment to expand radiotherapy capacity by investing over £150 million of additional funding until 2014-15. This funding, as well as existing funding for radiotherapy, is included in overall primary care trust (PCT) baseline allocations which amount to around £85 billion nationally.

The Secretary of State for Health, Mr Lansley, does not mandate how much PCTs are to spend on particular services within, these overall allocations. PCTs including those which commission services for Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire, have local discretion to decide how to use their overall allocation to commission services, including radiotherapy services, to meet the health care needs of their local populations.

Work is under way nationally to develop radiotherapy tariffs and this will include consideration of a tariff for Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy Treatment. The development and implementation of national tariffs for services such as radiotherapy is dependent on the existence and use of 'currencies' which describe the service being provided and which enable cost data to be collected, which is then used to underpin tariff prices. For some services with low activity volumes, setting a tariff on the basis of limited cost data may not be appropriate, in which case there would continue to be local agreement on price.

The “NHS Operating Framework 2011-12” states that the national health service is expected to implement the new Cancer Strategy and that commissioners should develop plans to ensure that local populations have appropriate access to radiotherapy treatment.

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