HC Deb 04 December 1997 vol 302 cc344-5W
Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has for improving the(a) breast screening service and (b) symptomatic breast service. [18511]

Mr. Boateng

The Government are committed to providing high quality breast services.

In the light of the recent failure of the breast screening programme in Exeter, the Government have announced wide ranging action on the organisation and management of cancer screening, to strengthen quality assurance, eliminate weaknesses in the management of screening, and restore public confidence. In addition to this, we are funding research into ways to improve the standard of the breast screening service offered to women. This includes pilot schemes to evaluate the effectiveness of extending the screening programme to invite women aged 65 to 69 routinely for screening; and research into the possible benefits of screening women more frequently than every three years.

We intend to improve all cancer services and fully endorse the recommendations set out in the Calman/Hine document "A Policy Framework for Commissioning Cancer Services". As a first step we have made available £10 million of extra resources specifically for breast cancer services. The additional funding is supporting over 300 initiatives around the country to improve the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Particular emphasis has been given to supporting projects that give rapid access to diagnostic services through the provision of one-stop clinics, speeding access to treatment by reducing waiting times and the provision of high quality care delivered in line with published guidance by specialist multi-disciplinary teams.

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