HC Deb 25 February 1987 vol 111 cc269-70W
Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has for developing cancer screening for women; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mark Robinson

I have recently received the report of the United Kingdom expert working group on breast cancer screening and I should like to record our thanks to its chairman, Professor Sir Patrick Forrest and to his committee for their work.

In Wales, about 750 women die each year from breast cancer and the report shows there is potential to save a substantial number or these lives. The development of this major new service, however, can proceed only if there is widespread support. For this reason, the Department will shortly be issuing a circular to district health authorities and to the professions setting out how we propose to ensure that the service is planned in a way that secures its successful introduction.

We shall be establishing an expert group, as envisaged in the report, to advise on implementation and on future development. We propose also that there should be a national training and demonstration centre to provide a sound basis for the development of the service throughout Wales and that this should be established during the course of 1987–88. One of the first tasks of the expert group will be to advise on the location and work of this centre. The group will also advise on the location of the network of assessment centres which will be developed in fulfilment of our objective that every part of Wales should be covered by the service by 1989–90.

Turning to cervical cancer screening, in the light of the recommendations of the committee on gynaecological cytology we shall be asking health authorities to ensure that call and recall begins at age 20. All DHAs will have appointed officers to be responsible for their screening programmes and all authorities should have computerised call and recall facilities by the end of 1987.

In order to strengthen the screening programme, in June 1986 I asked the health education advisory committee for Wales to consider what health education measures were needed. I have recently received its most helpful report, a copy of which has been placed in the Library. We have made available the funds needed to make possible the supply of materials developed by the committee. I intend to seek advice on health education support for breast cancer screening from the Welsh Health Promotion Authority, the creation of which my right hon. Friend announced on 16 January.

We have already provided additional recurring resources of £400,000 per annum to enable district health authorities to strengthen the screening service. Subject to parliamentary approval, we shall be providing a further £1.05 million per annum from the next financial year to continue this process and to lay the foundations for the breast cancer screening service. These initiatives are a further important demonstration of this Government's commitment to the promotion of women's health in the Principality.

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