Breast Cancer

Department of Health written question – answered on 27th January 2015.

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Photo of David Simpson David Simpson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department is taking to provide support to the NHS in assisting patients with breast cancer.

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

In Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer, published in 2011, the Government set an ambition to save an additional 5,000 lives per year from cancer by 2015. Our strategy invested £750 million in improving cancer services, including £450 million of additional funding to achieve earlier diagnosis of cancer. Latest projections show that we are on track to save an extra 12,000 lives each year.

On 11 January NHS England announced a new independent cancer taskforce to develop a five-year action plan for cancer services to improve survival rates and save thousands of lives.

The taskforce has been set up to produce a new national cancer strategy for the next five years to 2020, building on NHS England’s vision for improving cancer outcomes set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View. The taskforce will be set up in partnership with the cancer community and other health system leaders, and will be chaired by Dr Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK. The new strategy will cover prevention, early and faster diagnosis, better treatment and care for all, recovery, reablement and living with and beyond cancer. The strategy will also cover research and innovation, end-of-life care, data and metrics, and workforce. The taskforce will produce a statement of intent by March, and will aim to publish the new strategy in the summer.

NHS England also launched a major early-diagnosis programme, working jointly with Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support to test new approaches to identifying cancer more quickly. These include offering patients the option to self-refer for diagnostic tests, lowering the threshold for general practitioner (GP) referrals, and setting up multi-disciplinary diagnostic centres, so that patients can have several tests done at the same place on the same day. NHS England’s aim is to evaluate these innovative initiatives across more than 60 centres around England, in order to collect evidence on approaches that could be implemented from 2016-17.

Since 2010-11, the Department has run a series of Be Clear on Cancer (BCOC) campaigns to improve public awareness of the symptoms of cancer, including breast cancer, and to urge people with relevant symptoms to visit their GP promptly. In April 2013, responsibility for the BCOC campaigns was transferred to Public Health England, which continues to work on them in partnership with the Department, NHS England, including NHS Improving Quality, and other stakeholders, including charities.

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