HC Deb 08 July 2003 vol 408 cc782-3W
Dr. Kumar

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to alert people to the dangers of skin cancer and over-exposure to UV radiation. [121685]

Miss Melanie Johnson

A new sun awareness initiative, "SunSmart" was launched on 27 March by Cancer Research UK to make the public aware of the dangers of exposure to the sun. The campaign is based on the successful SunSmart campaign in Australia. The campaign has received funding of £120,000 from the United Kingdom Health Departments this year. We will evaluate the effectiveness of the campaign later in the year, with a view to deciding on future funding and campaigns.

The SunSmart campaign consists of: a poster and leaflet for the public; Cancer Research UK website redesign and links to other stakeholders; branding and design of SunSmart; Cancer Research UK commissioned research at Centre for Social Marketing; and a part-time health promotion consultant at Cancer Research UK for the duration of the campaign.

The campaign's aim is to increase the profile of the issue of skin cancer and methods of effective sun protection.

The key objectives are to increase knowledge of the causes of skin cancer, to increase awareness of actions that can be taken to prevent skin cancer and to influence positively attitudes to sun protection.

Subject to further funding, longer-term aims are to reduce sunlight exposure through changes in behaviour and environment, to increase the proportion of people reporting with early stage disease and decrease the proportion of people presenting with late tumours.

The campaign's key messages have been disseminated by way of an alert to the campaign and mailshot pack of posters and leaflets to all GP surgeries and health promotion units nationally, an alert to the campaign and mailshot to secondary schools with 3,500 leaflets and posters; and a series of press events over summer 2003 with leaflets and posters targeted in cities and seaside resorts.

We developed the "SunSafe" web pages last year, which were designed with children in mind, on the Department of Health website at www.doh.qov.uk/sunsafe. These will continue. Sun awareness information is also contained on the Wired For Health website at www.wiredforhealth.qov.uk/teaching/sun/intro.html.

We continue to fund annually the Meteorological Office to provide the daily UV index in the media on the TV, radio and Meteorological Office website.

The Department of Health also provides core funding to the National Radiological Protection Board, which has expertise on ultra violet radiation issues.