What does the latest report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer say?
I'm a member of the group. The report says that services aren't joined up in any way and that finding your way around them can be a nightmare. Our findings are based on the last Britain in Cancer conference, which was hosted by the APPG. All the chairs or vice-chairs of the group held sessions looking at various aspects of cancer care.
Are there any other problems that the conference brought to light?
Services are very fragmented and people don't know what to expect. It would be helpful for most people if, right at the beginning of their diagnosis, they were given a clear indication of what they can expect, what benefits are available and which targets have been set.
Is that why you have called for a set of national standards?
National standards would address this, but we have also called for written diagnoses and for there to be consistent communication - including a single, key contact for patients. Sometimes people find they are told one thing by one person and another by someone else.
What else is in your report?
We want to see more involvement from social services and an input from the Department for Work and Pensions, so that cancer patients claim all the benefits they are entitled to.
What role do you think the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence should play?
The bizarre thing about Nice is that, if it produces a report on a drug, that becomes statutory guidance. If it produces general guidelines on treating a condition, that has no status. We want a beefed-up role for Nice so that if it says "this is the best way to treat this type of cancer", people will have a guarantee this will happen. We also want Nice to appraise new drugs as a matter of course.