Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to (a) make an assessment of the effectiveness of the NHS Cancer Recovery Plan and (b) provide additional funding to improve capacity in cancer services to tackle the covid-19-outbreak-induced cancer treatment and diagnostic backlogs.
The Cancer Recovery Plan aims to restore urgent referrals at least to pre-pandemic levels, to reduce the number of people waiting over 62 days from urgent referral and ensure sufficient capacity to meet demand. The latest published data for November 2020 showed urgent referrals 2% above pre-pandemic levels, the number of people waiting over 62 days 24% above pre-pandemic levels and the number of people starting a first cancer treatment within 31 days at 95% of pre-pandemic levels.
In August 2020, the National Health Service announced a £160 million initiative to extend access to ‘COVID-friendly’ cancer treatments, in October, issued £150 million in funding to expand diagnostic capacity. A further £325 million funding of diagnostics equipment was announced in November’s Spending Review and cancer patients will continue to be prioritised within the NHS and will benefit from the additional £1 billion to begin tackling the elective backlog. Departmental officials regularly engage with their counterparts at HM Treasury regarding upcoming fiscal events.