Breast cancer care

People living with cancer can have complex and varied needs, many of which are currently not being met. One in four people who have been treated for cancer live with ill health or disability as a consequence of their treatment. It is important to support people with cancer to return to as good quality of life as possible after treatment has ended.

The cancer strategy contains recommendations that could go a long way towards helping people living with breast cancer. It places a significant emphasis on the importance of improving the quality of life of patients after treatment and contains a specific recommendation that the NHS should ensure that people living with and beyond cancer are fully supported. The government has accepted all 96 recommendations and this is welcome. However, progress has stalled. Ministers should publish a detailed update against these recommendations as soon as possible.

NHS England is currently piloting a new quality of life metric in five Cancer Alliances across England. This uses patient outcomes questionnaires to identify how well people are living 12 to 24 months after treatment. A full evaluation is due to be published ahead of its full rollout in 2019 and I will follow developments in this area closely.

The sustained underfunding of our NHS has pushed our health service to the brink and it is patients who are paying the price. The government has repeatedly missed the cancer waiting time target and there are almost 100,000 staff vacancies across our health service. It is unacceptable that, despite improvements in cancer survival rates, the UK still lags behind many of its European counterparts on cancer outcomes.

I will continue to press Ministers to bring forward a sustainable plan for our NHS so that it can deliver the standards of care patients deserve and ensure that the recommendations in the cancer strategy can be achieved.