To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent steps he has taken to ensure that people diagnosed with cancer are (a) diagnosed early and (b) treated immediately.
The Independent Cancer Taskforce’s report recognised the importance of early, and faster, diagnosis to improve both patient outcomes and experience. The Taskforce particularly recommended the implementation of a new cancer waiting times standard that, by 2020, everyone referred with a suspicion of cancer would receive either a definitive diagnosis or the all-clear within four weeks. We have committed to implementing this, and NHS England is working with partners across the health system to consider how best to take this forward.
NHS England has launched a major early diagnosis programme, Accelerate, Co-ordinate, Evaluate (ACE), working jointly with Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support to test new innovative approaches to identifying cancer more quickly. Outputs from the first wave of test sites, which commenced in April 2015, will be delivered on a phased basis, with the majority falling between September 2015 and December 2016. A number of the Proactive Lung cluster projects are running for 2-3 years but is hoped that there will be sufficient data after one year to enable evaluation. It is expected that ACE Wave 1 evaluation will be complete by mid-2017.
We welcome the very positive reaction we saw earlier this year to the publication of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence updated referral guidelines for suspected cancer. The new guideline focuses on key symptoms rather than which cancer a patient might have, to help make it easier to use and more applicable to the day-to-day experience of general practitioners and their patients.