To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the implications for his Department's policies of recommendations made by the Brain Tumour Charity in its Patient Guide to Brain Tumour Treatment and Services, published in November 2016.
The recommendations made by The Brain Tumour Charity in its report and guidance align with the recommendations in the independent Cancer Taskforce’s 2015 report, Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: A strategy for England 2015-20201, which represented the consensus views of the whole cancer community.
Improving early diagnosis of cancer is a priority for this Government. We have committed to delivering the independent Taskforce’s recommendations on early diagnosis, including the introduction of a 28 day waiting times standard. NHS England’s Accelerate, Co-ordinate, Evaluate programme is testing innovative ways of diagnosing cancer earlier. The second wave of the programme is piloting multi-disciplinary diagnostic centres for patients with vague or non-specific symptoms. The pilots are taking place in London, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Oxfordshire and Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven (Yorkshire).
Additionally, patient experience was one of the six strategic priorities identified by the independent Cancer Taskforce, and ‘overall patient experience’ is one of the four key metrics included in the Clinical Commissioning Group Improvement and Assessment Framework published for the first time in 2016.
A new Department of Health Task and Finish Working Group on Brain Tumour Research is bringing together clinicians, charities, patients, and officials to discuss how, working together with research funding partners, we can address the need to increase the level and impact of research into brain tumours. The Working Group is chaired by Professor Chris Whitty, the Department's Chief Scientific Adviser. The Working Group met for the second time on 30 January, and plans to report to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation by summer 2017.
The Department’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) supports brain tumour clinical trials via its Biomedical Research Centres, Clinical Research Facilities, and its Clinical Research Network (CRN). The CRN comprises 15 Local CRNs (LCRNs). In a new initiative from April 2015, each of these LCRNs has designated a senior clinician as the Subspecialty Lead for Brain Tumours. These local leaders are liaising with the National Cancer Research Institute’s Clinical Studies Groups to help plan the development and delivery of the national portfolio of brain tumour research, identifying new research opportunities and areas of clinical need. In the financial year 2015/16 the NIHR CRN supported recruitment of 1,061 patients to 37 brain cancer studies.
To support people after treatment ends, in December 2016, NHS England announced a fund of over £200 million available to Cancer Alliances over the next two years, specifically to support those areas of the Cancer Taskforce strategy that it estimated would need significant investment. This includes implementation of the Recovery Package so that patients have personalised care and support from the point they are diagnosed to improve their quality of life.
The report also included recommendations on palliative care. The Government’s ambition is for everyone approaching the end of life to receive high quality care that reflects their individual needs, choices and preferences. On 5 July 2016, we set out plans to improve end of life care in England. Our proposals are based on a commitment to high quality, personalised end of life care that we are making to all people at, or approaching the end of life.