HC Deb 26 February 2003 vol 400 cc636-7W
Mr. Frank Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on the Government's campaign to tackle effectively prostate cancer; and if he will make a statement. [97137]

Ms Blears

Good progress has been made since the national health service prostate cancer programme was launched on 6 September 2000, setting out the Government's approach to improving prostate cancer services in England and Wales.

As part of the prostate cancer risk management programme (PCRMP), evidence-based primary care resource packs were sent to all general practitioners in England from 23 September 2002 to aid them in counselling men who are worried about prostate cancer, ensuring the men make an informed choice about whether or not to have a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.

Other elements of the PCRMP include ensuring that a systematic and standardised follow-up pathway is available for individuals whose test result is above the PSA threshold and action to improve the quality of laboratory testing of PSA samples. Primary care and laboratories were informed of recommendations from the scientific reference group, which supports the PCRMP, in September 2002.

By 2003–04, the Department will be directly funding £4.2 million of research a year on prostate cancer. This is a 20-fold increase compared with 1999–2000. Two National Cancer Research Institute prostate cancer research collaboratives have been established in Newcastle and London. Funded research includes studies on various treatments for prostate cancer, improving the PSA test and ethnic differences in prostate cancer incidence. The National Cancer Research Institute considered prostate cancer as part of its strategic analysis in 2002, but made no specific recommendations.

The Department is funding a Section 64 grant to the Prostate Cancer Charity to increase further information about prostate cancer. This is supporting the creation, review, provision and dissemination of a range of awareness material, supported by £135,000 over three years. 92.4 per cent. of patients with suspected urological cancers, including prostate, were seen for their first out-patient appointment within two weeks of their general practitioner deciding they should be urgently referred, and the hospital receiving the referral within 24 hours, in April to June 2002.

The cancer services collaborative is modernising cancer care, including prostate cancer, by reducing unnecessary delays in the system for patients throughout the cancer journey.

The number of consultant urologists grew from 382 in 2000 to 427 in 2001, and is set to grow to 504 in 2005. There may be around an additional 100 trained specialists available to take up consultant posts in urology.

The Government welcomed the launch of the prostate cancer charter for action on 29 January 2003. We look forward to working closely with the charter. To ensure better collaboration and communication between the charter members, the Government intend to set up a prostate cancer advisory group, allowing us to combine the expertise of the voluntary sector with the national health service for the benefit of patients.

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