Local MP, Dame Caroline Dinenage, has welcomed the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid declaration of a “war on cancer” and launch a call for evidence to underpin an ambitious 10-Year Cancer Plan for England.
In PMQs this week Caroline raised the story of Sophie Fairall from Stubbington, who lost her life to cancer in September, aged just 10, and asked the Prime Minister for better diagnosis of childhood cancers.
Today, on World Cancer Day, a new call for evidence has been launched to inform an ambitious 10-Year Cancer Plan to make the country’s cancer care system the ‘best in Europe’ with a renewed focus placed on innovative cancer treatment and early diagnosis.
In his speech to launch the new policy, the Health Secretary referenced his meeting with Charlotte Fairall, Sophie’s mother, which was organised by Caroline last year. The Health Secretary said:
“I was so moved by an inspiring woman, Charlotte Fairall, who I met just before Christmas. Charlotte’s daughter Sophie was sadly taken by an aggressive form of cancer at the age of ten. This went unnoticed by a GP before it was diagnosed in A&E by a paediatrician, who found a tumour that was 12 centimetres long.
Charlotte is a dedicated fundraiser and a passionate advocate for improving childhood cancer care and my meeting her had a great impact on me.”
Commenting, Caroline said:
“I am so pleased that Sophie’s story had such an impact on the Health Secretary. Sophie’s story is heartbreaking but sadly not unique and I have been contacted by numerous families with similar stories.
Charlotte Fairall has shown remarkable determination in her efforts to change the way we detect, treat and care for children with Cancer, I have pledged to do all I can to support her and push for the changes we want to see. I’m hoping to lead a debate in Parliament on these issues soon”
In his speech today the Health and Social Care Secretary out new and strengthened priorities, which include:
- increasing the number of people diagnosed at an early stage, where treatment can prove much more effective;
- boosting the cancer workforce;
- tackling disparities and inequalities, including in cancer diagnosis times and ensuring recovery from the pandemic is delivered in a fair way. For instance, the ‘Help Us Help You’ cancer awareness campaign will be directed towards people from more deprived groups and ethnic minorities; and
- intensifying research on mRNA vaccines and therapeutics for cancer – this will be achieved through the UK’s global leadership and supporting industry to develop new cancer treatments by combining expertise in cancer immunotherapy treatment and the vaccine capabilities developed throughout the pandemic.
- Intensifying research on new early diagnostic tools to catch cancer at an earlier stage.
- Improving prevention of cancer through tackling the big known risk factors such as smoking.
Minister for Primary Care Maria Caulfield, said:
“Half of us will have cancer at some point in our lives, and many more will have to support someone close to them who has it.
“We want to have the best cancer care in Europe and this call to evidence will help us develop a plan to achieve this. We want to hear from you – cancer patients, relatives and NHS staff – to see how we can best move forward to deliver better care and treatment.”
Today’s new call for evidence is seeking input from cancer patients, relatives and NHS staff to gain the deepest understanding of the issue possible and provide the best future for the country’s cancer care. The easiest way to participate is by visiting gov.uk/dhsc
The call for evidence will run for 8 weeks, after which the government will factor in responses into its new 10-Year Cancer Plan which is expected to be set out in summer.