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MPs seek evidence on why England lags behind in cancer survival

8 July 2021

A new inquiry by the Health and Social Care Committee will examine what England must do to match the best performing countries on cancer survival.

The inquiry will also ask how progress has been affected by the covid-19 and the scale of disruption to cancer services. The chances of surviving cancer have improved significantly in recent years however, several studies have shown that progress in England lags behind many countries with comparable health systems.

The inquiry calls for evidence on whether current measures included in the NHS Long Term Plan are enough to close the gap in cancer outcomes. It aims to identify what action the Government may need to take to accelerate progress for patients.

In the first evidence session, taking place on Tuesday 13 July at 09.30am, the Committee will hear from cancer directors at NHS England on what is needed to address the serious backlog in cancer diagnosis and treatment caused by the pandemic. Experts on international comparisons for cancer outcomes will also give evidence.

Chair comment

Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Chair of Health and Social Care Committee, said:

“With one in two people facing a cancer diagnosis at some point in their life, improving the chances of survival has to be a priority.
“Our inquiry will ask why despite good progress we still lag behind countries like France, Germany, Canada and Australia in cancer survival rates.
“We are particularly concerned about the impact of the pandemic and how the NHS can deal with a significant cancer backlog whilst still under enormous pressure.”

Evidence session

Tuesday 13 July


At 9.30am

  • Dame Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director, NHS England
  • Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer, NHS England

At 10.30am

  • John Butler, Consultant Gynaecologist and Clinical Lead, International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership
  • Professor Sir Mike Richards, former National Cancer Director
  • Professor Jon Emery, Professor of Primary Care Cancer Research, University of Melbourne

Inquiry Terms of Reference

The Health and Social Care Committee is inviting written submissions to its cancer services inquiry by Friday 3 September, addressing any or all of the following questions:

  • Why do cancer outcomes in England – in particular survival – still lag behind comparable countries internationally?
  • How will covid-19 affect efforts to catch up to the best cancer outcomes internationally?
  • Will implementing the Long Term Plan for cancer improve cancer outcomes to the level of the best countries internationally?

Further information

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