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Lansley Confirms Cancer Networks to Stay

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After months of objections from politicians and charities, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley yesterday confirmed that the cancer networks, which help aid Primary Care Trusts in the treatment of cancer patients, will be safe when reforms are put into place. Until now Lansley had made clear that it would be up to the proposed GP consortiums as to which services would receive funding, but last night he announced that the government, “will fund and support cancer networks in 2012-13, (and) the NHS commissioning board will thereafter continue to support strengthened cancer networks.”

Currently there are 28 networks all admired for their work in helping NHS trusts improve their cancer care and working with hospitals to ensure patients get the best drugs available and the most up to date surgery. Hamish Meldrum, leader of the British Medical Association, told MPs that the networks were a fundamental service of the NHS. During yesterday’s speech Lansley agreed that the networks are a “shining example” of how health professionals can work together to benefit patients, one of the focal points of his reform plans. He promised to imitate this way of working to improve services in other areas of patient care throughout the NHS. Lansley’s NHS reform bill seems to be causing the coalition it’s biggest problems at present, but this u-turn in policy has encouraged support from politicians and charities alike.

Ciarán Devane, Macmillan’s chief executive welcomed the plans, “ it provides important reassurance that care will not be put at risk by the health reforms. We’re very pleased the government has listened to our concerns and recognised the importance of cancer networks in commissioning high-quality cancer services.” John Healey, shadow health secretary and Paul Burstow, health minister with responsibility for cancer have also added their support.

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