A New Year, and already a new debate on pancreatic cancer in the House of Commons. It is great to see that political pressure and awareness is being kept up; ‘start how you mean to go on,’ as they say.
The debate yesterday was called by Nic Dakin MP. Nic is Treasurer of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pancreatic Cancer and is also Maggie Watts’ MP: he led her e-petition debate in Parliament in September last year as well.
Yesterday Nic’s speech was entitled ‘Future Medical Support for Pancreatic Cancer’ and covered a range of issues: symptom awareness campaigns, drug access, trials for new referral pathways to increase early diagnosis, clinical trials to speed access to new treatments, ensuring pancreatic cancer is included in the 100,000 Genome Project and, finally, calling for the 2015-20 cancer strategy, which is currently being developed, to prioritise research and treatments into pancreatic cancer and other cancers with low survival rates.
All of that in a 15 minute speech.
The debate also included a brief contribution from Eric Ollerenshaw MP, Chair of the APPG on Pancreatic Cancer, who reiterated the call for the forthcoming cancer strategy to include a section prioritising ‘recalcitrant’ cancers like pancreatic cancer. He asked for the Chief Medical Officer to come and talk to the APPG about research into the disease.
And it is worth noting that whilst end of day debates like this – capped to 30 minutes in length - are usually attended just by the Member who called the debate and the Minister, Mark Durkan MP, who has supported the APPG since its inception, stayed for the whole debate too, even though he was not allocated time to speak.
The Minister responding was Jane Ellison MP, the Public Health Minister, who also replied to the e-petition debate in September. She stressed again that she recognised ‘[survival] outcomes are particularly poor for patients with pancreatic cancer. We need to do a lot better.’ An important acknowledgement from the start.
In addition to undertaking to provide further information to some of the questions asked by Nic Dakin, the Minister also promised to ask NHS England again about whether a specific awareness campaign for pancreatic cancer was feasible; seek clarification as to whether technologies such as Nanoknife and Cyberknife could be added to NHS England’s Commissioning through Evaluation Scheme; and to ensure that the Chief Medical Officer attended a meeting of the APPG to discuss research into pancreatic cancer.
So, once again some useful steps, not least in making sure the issues we need to see addressed remain at the forefront of Ministers’ minds.
A big thank you from us to Nic for his continuing support.