Department of Health written question – answered on 9th January 2015.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department is taking to tackle inequalities among BME communities' awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer and patient experience of cancer care.

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

Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer (2011) set out our ambition to save an additional 5,000 lives every year by 2014-15, and to narrow the inequalities gap at the same time. This strategy is backed by over £750 million, and although final figures will not be known for some time, projections show that we could be on course to save 10,000 lives over this time period.

Since 2010-11 the Department and Public Health England (PHE), since 2013, in partnership with NHS England (including NHS Improving Quality (NHS IQ)) and other stakeholders have run Be Clear on Cancer (BCOC) campaigns to raise the public’s awareness of cancer signs and symptoms; and encourage people with those signs and symptoms to go to the doctor promptly. As part of these campaigns, PHE works with a specialist multicultural marketing consultancy to develop activities with black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. Activities include targeted television, radio and press advertising in key national, regional and specialist media. As part of the BME public relations activity, healthcare professionals and cancer survivors from ethnic minorities (where possible), are recruited to participate in media interviews to address the barriers preventing early presentation to general practitioners (GPs).

A pilot BCOC campaign was run in six boroughs of London between October and November 2014 to raise awareness of the increased risk of prostate cancer amongst black men aged over 45. Early findings from the qualitative evaluation show that the majority of respondents demonstrated some awareness of seeing, hearing or taking some action about prostate cancer over the last few months and that GPs welcomed the campaign and were aware of the local activity.

To reduce inequalities in cancer treatment and to support the National Health Service to tackle regional variations we are providing data to providers and commissioners that allow them to benchmark their services and outcomes against one another and to identify where improvements need to be made. In June 2014, the National Cancer Intelligence Network published a second annual report on Cancer and equality groups: key metrics, which highlighted improvements in trusts reporting ethnic group.

To help cancer teams and professionals in trusts and support continual improvement in cancer patient experience, NHS IQ and Macmillan Cancer Support produced An Introductory Guide to Quality Improvement in November 2014. NHS IQ is launching a pioneering project that pairs highly-rated cancer trusts with trusts that have potential to improve their patient experience. This is a drive to reduce national variation in patients’ experience of care and raise overall standards. NHS IQ is also running events in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and NHS England to look at how cancer patient experience data is used by commissioners.

Through the National Cancer Equality Initiative we will continue to work with NHS England and relevant stakeholders to reduce inequalities in cancer care.

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