Health written question – answered on 29th January 2013.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) what steps his Department plans to take to support the NHS Commissioning Board in the prevention of premature mortality linked to cancer;

(2) what steps he plans to take to support the NHS Commissioning Board in its aim of saving 5,000 lives a year through early diagnosis of cancer.

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

In the Government's mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board, we set an objective for the board to work towards making the national health service one of the most successful countries in Europe at preventing premature deaths. The aim is to make significant progress in supporting the earlier diagnosis of illness, ensuring people have access to the right treatments, reducing unjustified variation between hospitals and focusing the NHS on preventing illness.

It is for the board to decide how they will carry this out and the NHS Outcomes Framework will be used to assess progress against the mandate objectives. Domain 1 of the NHS Outcomes Framework focuses on measuring how the NHS is performing in preventing people from dying prematurely and includes mortality and survival rates for cancer.

As we have highlighted in the second annual report for Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer published in December 2012, good progress is being made in improving cancer outcomes. We are investing over £450 million in early diagnosis of cancer including funding general practice direct access to key tests to help them rule out or confirm cancer in symptomatic patients, funding more testing and treatment in secondary care and running campaigns to raise awareness of symptoms of cancer.

We are investing over £173 million to expand radiotherapy services up to 2014-15 to support the utilisation of existing radiotherapy equipment; provide for new services; support increased access to proton beam therapy abroad and deliver a £23 million Radiotherapy Innovation Fund (2012-13). The Department has set aside up to £250 million of public capital to be invested by the NHS in building proton beam therapy facilities at The Christie Hospital and University College London Hospital. These facilities will treat up to 1,500 patients a year and the first is due to become operational from the end of 2017.

Since October 2010, over 25,000 patients in England have benefited from the additional £650 million funding for cancer drugs that this Government has committed to providing.

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