§ Mr. Hammond
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps he has taken and what discussions he has held, with a view to increasing the percentage of urgent breast cancer referrals that are included within the two week consultation pledge; 
(2) what steps his Department has taken to make general practitioners aware of the need for urgent referrals of patients with suspected breast cancer to be received by the hospital within 24 hours in order to be covered by the guarantee that they will be seen by a specialist within two weeks. 
§ Yvette Cooper
Guidance on the need to refer urgent referrals within 24 hours was issued to primary care leads, health authorities, National Health Service trusts and local medical centres through regional leads in December 1998. This has been augmented by additional guidance and the issue of revised breast cancer referral guidelines sent to all general practitioners in September 1999. This has been supported by action at local and regional levels to establish clear referral criteria and referral pathways so that those patients being referred urgently under the two week standard can be identified quickly and referred appropriately. We will continue to monitor the proportion of urgent referrals received within and outside 24 hours and to work with the professions to enable the maximum number of women to benefit from this high standard of care.