HC Deb 05 April 2001 vol 366 cc272-3W
Mr. Beggs

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to reduce the time patients have to wait to receive cancer scans and biopsies. [156768]

Yvette Cooper

We are making significant investment in equipment of £93 million from the New Opportunities Fund which is being used to buy over 300 pieces of equipment for the breast screening programme, along with 34 MRI scanners and 30 linear accelerators. A further £100 million from the Modernisation Fund is being used to update and replace 66 CT scanners and planning equipment for cancer treatment.

We have launched a new initiative to increase the number of histopathologists in training by investing £1.3 million to fund three pilot training centres. We are also investing £2.5 million a year in a training programme for general practitioners, nurses, surgeons and gastroenterologists to undertake endoscopy. Investment in work force means that by 2006 there will be nearly 1,000 extra cancer specialists. Over the summer cancer networks will be developing three year service delivery plans to include work force, education and facilities strategies.

The cancer services collaborative has demonstrated that by changing the way cancer services are provided, for example by pre-planning and pre-booking care, waiting times can be cut and a major impact can be made on cancer care. From 1 April 2001 the improvements in cancer care developed by the collaborative are being rolled out to every cancer network in the country, supported by up to £15 million central funding.