Maria Caulfield – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Maria Caulfield on 2016-01-04.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what plans he has to respond to the report of the Independent Cancer Taskforce; and what the timetable is for implementation of the recommendations of that report.

Jane Ellison

The independent Cancer Taskforce’s five-year strategy for cancer, Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes, published in July 2015, recommends improvements across the cancer pathway with the aim of improving survival rates. NHS England has appointed Cally Palmer as NHS National Cancer Director. She will lead on the implementation of the strategy, as well as new cancer vanguards to redesign care and patient experience.

She is currently setting up a new Cancer Transformation Board to lead the roll-out of the recommendations of the new strategy, and a Cancer Advisory Group, chaired by Dr Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, will oversee and scrutinise their work. Timeframes and phasing for implementation will be dependent on the final financial settlement reached as a result of the spending review.

We announced in September 2015 that Health Education England (HEE) is developing a new national training programme for an additional 200 staff to get the skills and expertise to carry out endoscopies by 2018. The content of the next mandate from the Government to HEE is currently being determined.

A commitment to whole-person care for patients, including those living with and beyond cancer, is embedded throughout the cancer taskforce report. In addition, the cancer vanguards have been established to explore new models of care, with a focus on delivering more person-centred care.

Ensuring the National Health Service is able to support the availability and use of effective treatments and medicines for rare cancers is a key priority. Cancer 52, an organisation which specifically represents patients with rarer cancers, was represented on the independent Cancer Taskforce. The Taskforce’s report made many recommendations relevant to rarer cancers, focussing in particular on improving access to diagnostic testing, including fast, direct general practitioner access to key blood tests, and increasing patient access to the most advanced treatments.