Health written question – answered on 11th June 2014.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to ensure that there is no age discrimination in NHS treatment of breast, prostate and bowel cancer.

Photo of Jane Ellison Jane Ellison The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The national health service has a statutory duty to reduce health inequalities and improve the health of those with the poorest outcomes. The NHS constitution makes clear that a core duty of the NHS is to promote equality for all groups in society, including older people. A ban on age discrimination in NHS services was introduced in 2012, meaning that NHS services need to do everything they can to ensure that services do not unwittingly discriminate against older people.

As well as the legal and moral imperative, improving the treatment and care of older people affected by cancer can also play a significant role in improving outcomes. Tackling health inequalities and promoting equality of outcome in England is essential to achieving cancer survival rates which match the best performing countries in the world. Furthermore, cancer treatment should always be based on what is right for each individual patient, whatever their age.

In December last year, NHS England National Clinical Director for Cancer, Sean Duffy, launched a ‘call for action' on the treatment for older people, a priority for NHS England and its partners. As part of this, NHS England is setting up an advisory group so it can identify where real improvements can be made in cancer services for older people. We are also supporting an initiative which will make sure that patients are better informed about the options available to them and they are fully involved in decisions about their treatment.

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