HC Deb 27 November 2003 vol 415 cc371-2W
Mr. Jenkins

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what action the Department is taking to tackle the rise in skin cancer cases in England. [141815]

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 from the United Kingdom Health Departments this year. We will be providing further funding for the campaign for next summertime.

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 general practitioner 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. The effectiveness of the campaign is being evaluated and the lessons learnt will be fed into future development of the campaign.

The Department has separately developed the "SunSafe" web pages last year, designed with children in mind and these are available on the Department's website at www.doh.gov.uk/sunsafe. Sun awareness information is also contained on the "Wired For Health" website at www.wiredforhealth.gov.uk/teaching/sun/ intro.html.

We continue to fund annually the Meteorological Office to provide the daily Ultra-Violet index in the media (TV, radio, Meteorological Office website).

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