HC Deb 20 May 1999 vol 331 cc401-2W
Mr. Paul Marsden

To ask the Prime Minister if he will set up a Cabinet Committee on the provision of cancer treatment in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [84235]

The Prime Minister

The Government is firmly committed to improving the provision of cancer treatment in the UK and has made it one of its highest priorities. All people, wherever they live, should have access to high quality cancer services. This was the aim of the Calman/Hine report "A Policy Framework for commissioning Cancer Services". However, when the Calman/Hine principles were adopted in 1995, no machinery to monitor progress was established. We are now rectifying that omission.

We have established a National Cancer Forum with a remit of acting as the focus for maintaining the strategic oversight of the Calman/Hine cancer services implementation programme, and to advise Ministers on specialised issues related to cancer.

Other UK countries are represented on the National Cancer Forum and have similar strategies and initiatives to improve cancer services, and Ministers take a keen interest in progress.

In recognition of the importance of cancer to the Government's agenda, we are also holding a high level cancer seminar today at 10 Downing Street. Those attending will cover the spectrum from prevention, screening, treatment, research, voluntary organisations, patient perspective and NHS implementation. The purpose of the seminar is to review where the UK's performance stands in comparison to other countries, to consider the action we have already taken and are taking, to improve performance and identify further action to be taken in pursuit of our objectives. Our intention is to look across the complete pathway of the disease, from research to hospice care and from prevention to the application of the latest treatments.

I do not believe a Cabinet Committee would improve the Government's ability to address this important issue.

Back to