HC Deb 04 December 1995 vol 268 c11
11. Mrs. Clwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the incidence of breast cancer in Wales.[1866]

Mr. Richards

Breast cancer rates in Wales have for many years been higher than those in England, though I am pleased to say that overall mortality from the disease fell by nearly 10 per cent. in Wales between 1988 and 1994. International studies suggest that differences in the rates between countries and regions are due to a combination of social, environmental and genetic factors.

Mrs. Clwyd

That is not a sufficiently good explanation for the women in Wales who will die of breast cancer. We want to know why more women are dying of breast cancer in Wales than in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and why the disease is on the increase in Wales and on the decrease in the other parts of the United Kingdom. Does not the Minister realise that women are angry about the lottery of care and the quality of care, and because the Government appear not to care?

Mr. Richards

Considerable research has been undertaken into the causes of the disease. It is unlikely that its increased incidence in Wales is being influenced by a new factor, undetected in previous studies. For that reason, we do not consider that research into incidence in particular areas would be of benefit. I remind the hon. Lady that the Government spent £3.8 million on breast cancer research in 1993-94. I am appalled that she should complain about the quality of care in our hospitals. That is an outrageous accusation.

Mr. Merchant

While I accept that the increased incidence of breast cancer in Wales is a serious problem that needs addressing, will my hon. Friend nevertheless confirm that it is recognised in the higher spending on health per capita in Wales, which also takes into account other additional health problems in Wales.

Mr. Richards

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. We spend some 9 per cent. of GDP in Wales on health care. In addition to the £3:8 million that I quoted a moment ago, United Kingdom health departments are currently funding four studies into screening costing £5 million over five years. In 1992-93, health departments and the Government-funded Medical Research Council spent £21.5 million on cancer research.

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