HC Deb 03 June 1986 vol 98 cc725-6
12. Mr. Kennedy

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on current steps being taken to provide screening facilities for breast cancer.

Mr. Hayhoe

The United Kingdom expert working group under the chairmanship of Professor Sir Patrick Forrest is now considering the policy options for breast cancer screening. Its final report will be ready later this year and I shall announce the Government's response as quickly as possible.

Mr. Kennedy

Will that inquiry, and will the Government's thinking on the matter, take into account international studies that show clearly that of the 10,000 or more deaths from breast cancer, over 30 per cent. are avoidable and preventable? Does he accept that more must therefore be done by the Government centrally directing funds and centrally directing Health Service thinking towards prevention, especially of mammagraphic abnormalities?

Mr. Hayhoe

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will support the work being done by Professor Sir Patrick Forrest and his colleagues. Their interim report shows that there was a convincing case, on clinical grounds. for a change in United Kingdom policy on the provision of mammographic facilities and the screening of symptom-less women aged 50 and over. The committee is now considering the policy options, their costs, benefits and overall implications for the National Health Service. We expect that report towards the end of the year. We will come to a decision quickly after the report is published and announce our conclusions to the House.

Ms. Richardson

What I think the House would like to know is whether one additional woman will be screened as a result of the Government's initiative.

Mr. Hayhoe

Yes, that will happen. If we examine the record on these matters, which was set out fully in a debate on 5 February, it is clear that the Labour party has no claim worth hearing on this issue, if we compare its record with that of successive Conservative Governments.