Cancer: Screening

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 10th June 2019.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to tackle the decline in the number of women taking up (a) breast and (b) cervical cancer screening.

Photo of Seema Kennedy Seema Kennedy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Professor Sir Mike Richards has published his interim independent review of national cancer screening programmes in England.

The interim report makes two recommendations: that local systems across the country take immediate action to address the decline in screening uptake by implementing interventions for which a clear evidence base already exists; and that national stakeholders should ensure IT systems for general practitioner registrations and screening are fit for purpose.

The report notes that in order to encourage uptake in harder to reach groups, the Government needs to build the evidence base for other emerging interventions, paying particular attention to novel approaches that have been introduced locally and appear to be successful. Evaluation would be needed to determine whether they can be replicated on a wider scale. Professor Sir Mike Richards has committed to gathering further evidence on these and other interventions as the review progresses and will include specific work with faith and ethnic groups, experts on physical and learning disabilities and with LGBT+ communities on their specific concerns about screening, with a particular focus on the transgender community.

The Government awaits the final recommendations which will be reported in the summer 2019, and will consider these carefully, alongside the recommendations from the recent reports published by the Public Accounts Committee, the National Audit Office's investigation into screening and the national Cancer Strategy.

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