Cancer: 16th April 2013

Mr John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) (Con)
14. How the NHS will be held to account on the experiences of cancer patients using the NHS. [150777]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anna Soubry)
The Secretary of State made it very clear to NHS England in his mandate that we expect to see an improvement in patient experience.

Mr Baron
The Francis report recommended that the NHS be held to account on patient experiences. Given that the national cancer patient experience survey is a proven tool in driving up the quality of care, will the Minister endorse calls for the survey to be carried out annually, and support the development of a clinical commissioning group outcomes indicator set indicator based on the results in order to incentivise CCGs to improve cancer patient experience?

Anna Soubry
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for those comments; as he knows, these are now matters for NHS England. I will make sure it is aware of what he has said and his urging it to do both those things for the obvious benefits they would have for a cancer patient’s experience.

Mr Jamie Reed (Copeland) (Lab)
The hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron) is absolutely right: it is essential that the NHS is held to account for the experiences of cancer patients and patients with other conditions, too. Accountability has undoubtedly been weakened, however, as a result of the NHS reorganisation that came into effect this month. Last week, the outgoing deputy chief executive of the NHS, David Flory, said that the loss of experience in the NHS is greater than he has ever seen and that hospitals have been left struggling as a result. How can a service stripped of so much skill, knowledge and expertise provide the accountability that patients deserve?

Anna Soubry
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman’s question depicts a situation that I simply do not recognise. As I visit hospitals and other organisations, both in my constituency and across the country, I am told that there has been a huge improvement, especially in commissioning—[Interruption.] No, by front-line clinicians, who talk with enthusiasm about how the commissioning of services has improved because now at last the clinicians—those who know best—are in charge, and not, as has often been the case, faceless bureaucrats and managers.