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Written Question
Mental Health Services and Special Educational Needs: Children
Wednesday 21st February 2024

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps she is taking to reduce the time taken for children to receive (a) SEN assessments and (b) mental health treatment.

Answered by Maria Caulfield - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

The Department of Health and Social Care is working closely with the Department for Education to ensure that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) receive the right support, in the right place, at the right time. We are doing this through working together to implement the SEND and Alternative Provision Improvement Plan, which was published on 2 March 2023. This sets out the Government’s mission to establish a single national system that delivers for every child and young person with SEND and in alternative provision, so that they enjoy their childhood, achieve good outcomes, and are well prepared for adulthood and employment.

The Department of Health and Social Care is also investing at least an additional £2.3 billion a year in expanding National Health Service mental health services by March 2024, compared to 2018/19, and have set out our aim in the NHS Long Term Plan for an additional 345,000 children and young people to be able to get the mental health support they need. NHS England is also developing a new waiting time standard for children and their families to start receiving community-based mental health care within four weeks of referral.


Written Question
Health Services: Women
Monday 8th January 2024

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to reduce waiting times for (a) treatment for and (b) diagnosis of (i) endometriosis, (ii) polycystic ovary syndrome and (iii) other women's health concerns; and what steps she is taking to help ensure young women seeking treatment for these conditions have their concerns taken seriously.

Answered by Maria Caulfield - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

The Women’s Health Strategy sets out the government’s plans for boosting the health and wellbeing of women and girls and ensuring they feel listened to and have their concerns taken seriously. We are investing £25 million in women’s health hubs which will play a key role in improving access to care. Menstrual problems assessment and treatment for conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are core services in women’s health hubs.

Community diagnostic centres (CDCs) are playing an important part in tackling the backlogs of people waiting for diagnostic tests, which includes checks, tests and scans for patients on gynaecological pathways, including those with endometriosis and PCOS. As of December 2023, there are 140 CDCs operational which have delivered over six million additional tests since July 2021.

Additionally, gynaecology is one of six specialties being prioritised through surgical hubs for planned procedures. Surgical hubs focus on providing high-volume low-complexity surgery, such as hysteroscopies for women not suitable for outpatient clinic procedures and laparoscopies for suspected endometriosis. There are currently 94 surgical hubs operational across the National Health Service in England, with 45 of these conducting gynaecological procedures.


Written Question
Brain: Tumours
Monday 18th December 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps her Department is taking to support recruitment and approval processes for clinical trials for brain tumours.

Answered by Andrew Stephenson - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Government has set out a vision for the Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery which aims to increase participation in research and improve the speed and efficiency of approvals processes. This, together with the Government response to the O’Shaughnessy review backed by up to £121 million of funding, will help to drive improvements in recruitment to clinical trials and approval processes which lead to quicker study set up. More information on the vision is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-future-of-uk-clinical-research-delivery/saving-and-improving-lives-the-future-of-uk-clinical-research-delivery

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has now cleared the backlog of clinical trials waiting for regulatory approvals and regulatory assessments, and all newly received, fully complaint clinical trials applications will be approved within statutory timelines of 60 days. In the Government response to the O’Shaughnessy review, we announced new United Kingdom performance indicators with immediate effect, including measures relating to recruitment levels and approvals timelines for clinical trials. These measures will benefit all clinical trials, including brain tumour trials.

The Department-funded National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) funds research and research infrastructure which supports patients and the public to participate in high-quality research. In 2022/23, NIHR supported 61 brain tumour studies and supported recruitment of 4,317 participants to these studies in England. In addition, the NIHR online service called 'Be Part of Research' allows users to search for studies and register their interest that is relevant to them, increasing access to research opportunities.


Written Question
Gender Dysphoria
Wednesday 13th December 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Consultation report for the interim service specification for specialist gender incongruence services for children and young people published by NHS England on 9 June 2023, if she will provide a definition of the term early-onset gender dysphoria.

Answered by Maria Caulfield - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

Early-onset gender dysphoria is referred to in NHS England’s Consultation report for the interim service specification. It is referenced in relation to research that has been commissioned by the research board, chaired by Professor Sir Simon Wessely, into the impact of puberty suppressing hormones in children with ‘early-onset’ gender dysphoria.

The focus on ‘early-onset’ gender dysphoria responds directly to findings from the Cass Review that in recent years there has been a dramatic change in the case-mix of referrals to specialist gender services. from predominantly birth-registered males presenting with gender incongruence from an early age to predominantly birth-registered females presenting with later onset of reported gender incongruence in early teens. It will be for the clinical trial study team to propose the precise eligibility definitions to be used in the study as the proposal is developed over the next few months.


Written Question
Cancer: Clinical Trials
Monday 11th December 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether her Department is taking steps to help (a) increase the number of (i) children and (ii) young adults who are recruited to and (b) the development of medical trials for young people with cancer.

Answered by Andrew Stephenson - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Department-funded National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) funds research and research infrastructure which supports patients and the public participate in high-quality research. Between 2018/19 and 2021/22, NIHR provided £35.2 million in funding for childhood cancer, equating to 7.8% of total cancer spend. Through the NIHR Clinical Research Network, NIHR supported the opening of 94 children’s cancer studies between 2018 and 2022, and the recruitment of 5,356 participants.

Since 2012, NIHR has funded a network of Paediatric Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres, dedicated to early-phase research on childhood cancers. This has enabled the development of a robust national trial network with international recognition.

In addition, NIHR provides an online service called 'Be Part of Research' which promotes participation in health and social care research by allowing users to search for relevant studies and register their interest. This makes it easier for people to find and take part in health and care research that is relevant to them.


Written Question
Brain: Tumours
Thursday 7th December 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether her Department is taking steps to help improve collaboration between researchers and healthcare providers to help increase the efficiency of brain tumour clinical trials.

Answered by Andrew Stephenson - Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Government has set out a vision for the Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery which aims to create a research-positive culture in which all health and care staff feel empowered to support and participate in clinical research, this together with the Government response to the O’Shaughnessy review backed by up to £121 million, will improve how research is embedded in the National Health Service, make it a more attractive place to conduct clinical research and improve the speed of commercial clinical trials. More information on the vision is available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-future-of-uk-clinical-research-delivery/saving-and-improving-lives-the-future-of-uk-clinical-research-delivery

The Department-funded National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) supports delivery of the vision through investment in research and infrastructure across a range of clinical areas, including brain tumour research. The Department-funded NIHR Biomedical Research Centres are an NIHR infrastructure scheme which provides support for experimental medicine research, including six centres which conduct brain tumour research.


Written Question
Eating Disorders: Health Services
Wednesday 18th October 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether he has had recent discussions with NHS England on the adequacy of guidance issued to patients with severe and enduring eating disorders.

Answered by Maria Caulfield - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

No such recent discussions have been held. NHS England continues to work with systems and healthcare professionals to support the adoption of guidance from the Royal College of Psychiatrists on medical emergencies in eating disorders. This guidance includes severe or enduring eating disorders.


Written Question
Cancer: Children and Young People
Wednesday 18th October 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to improve access to clinical trials for young cancer patients.

Answered by Will Quince

The Government has taken steps to improve the delivery of clinical trials in the United Kingdom, including those researching preventative and therapeutic interventions for young cancer patients. This includes increased funding for clinical research through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) which supports and funds clinical trials in the UK; entering an innovative partnership with Moderna to explore the potential of mRNA as a breakthrough technology for cancer; and establishing the Cancer Mission, with £22.5 million committed to the research and development of new immune-based cancer therapies and swifter diagnostics.

The NIHR has a dedicated Clinical Research Network that helps promote and facilitate patient access to clinical trials, including an online service called 'Be Part of Research'. ‘Be Part of Research’ promotes public participation in health and social care research by allowing users to search for relevant studies and register their interest.


Written Question
Cancer: Young People
Tuesday 17th October 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that policies on supporting young people affected by cancer are included in the Major Conditions Strategy.

Answered by Will Quince

The Department is taking steps to ensure that policies supporting young people affected by cancer are included in the Major Conditions Strategy, by looking at whole-person care, by reviewing all relevant evidence, and by engaging with key stakeholders.

The Major Conditions Strategy, announced on 24 January 2023, will set out a shift to integrated, whole-person care, building on measures already in place through the NHS Long Term Plan. This approach will use the best evidence for ways to tackle the major conditions that contribute to the burden of disease, including cancer for young people, in England.

The strategy will look at the treatment and prevention of cancer, covering the whole patient pathway. It will also look at a wide range of ways to improve outcomes and experiences for young people with cancer. This approach was published in the Major Conditions Strategy: Case for Change and Strategic Framework on 14 August 2023. The final Major Conditions Strategy report being developed will draw on all relevant evidence. This will include valuable submissions from young people’s cancer charities and stakeholders in response to Calls for Evidence, both on the 10-Year Cancer Plan and on the Major Conditions Strategy, when over 5,000 submissions were provided to the Department.

A key part of developing the strategy involves engagement with stakeholders, including with organisations representing young people affected by cancer, to ensure their views are considered in this important work.


Written Question
Cancer: Young People
Tuesday 17th October 2023

Asked by: Nadia Whittome (Labour - Nottingham East)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many and what proportion of people with cancer aged between 13 and 24 are enrolled in clinical trials.

Answered by Will Quince

The Government published ‘Saving and Improving Lives: The Future of UK Clinical Research Delivery’ in March 2021. The phase 2 implementation plan for the vision, published in June 2021, aims to make it easier for all patients, including cancer patients, to access relevant research.

Clinical trials are funded by a range of public, charity and commercial organisations, including by the Department via the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR). In 2022/23, the NIHR Clinical Research Network recruited 35,737 participants to cancer studies. Information on the age of participants enrolled in NIHR-funded clinical trials is not currently collated centrally by NIHR and could only be obtained at disproportionate costs.