I have demonstrated my support for women and men living with breast cancer this October by attending the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer’s (APPGBC) Reception at the House of Commons last Wednesday 26th October.
More people are developing breast cancer than ever before – with 50,000 women and around 350 men diagnosed every year in the UK – and around 11,500 patients lose their lives to the disease each year.
Attended by more than 100 representatives from the breast cancer community, including 45 MPs, the APPGBC reception was held in support of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to keep the issues that matter most to breast cancer patients high on the parliamentary agenda.
With MPs, Peers, civil servants, health professionals, patients and charity representatives in attendance, the APPGBC announced the launch of a new parliamentary inquiry into geographical inequalities in breast cancer services across England.
Currently, while breast cancer patients should receive the same high level of treatment across England, unfortunately this is often not the case. Many patients receive varying levels of care depending on where in the country they live, with inequalities throughout the patient pathway, from early diagnosis through to treatment and survival. In Wales there is a different story. The Welsh NHS is performing better than the NHS in England when it comes to cancer survival rates. But many people in Delyn travel to England for care and it is important that their voices are represented at this APPGBC.
Led by co-chairs Sharon Hodgson MP, Craig Tracey MP and Dr Philippa Whitford MP, as well as vice chairs Jo Churchill MP and Baroness Massey of Darwen, the inquiry will seek to establish the extent of these geographic variations, explore their impact on patients and ultimately make recommendations to reduce inequalities.
Although the inquiry will focus on breast cancer services and care in England, the APPGBC is keen to learn from examples of good practice in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and is encouraging people from the devolved nations to respond to the call for written evidence.
It is vitally important that MPs continue to raise awareness on breast cancer, but also for us to bring together experts so we can effectively lobby the Government on greater cancer care and research investment.
In Flintshire, we have 166.9 incidence of breast cancer to every 100,000 people. That is a lower figure than the national average of 170.4. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We must ensure that people know how to reduce the risks of cancer and what symptoms to look out for and going to the doctor if you have any questions.
Attending this APPG has ensured that Delyn’s voice is being represented at an important APPG. I will continue to work with excellent groups like these to improve the Government’s policies and make people’s lives better.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“It was heartening to see so many MPs, peers, civil servants, healthcare professionals and patients come together to support those affected by breast cancer.
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month may have drawn to a close, but our work to save lives and to improve patients’ experiences across the country must now continue.
“We are so grateful to David for his continued support both for breast cancer research and for women and men living with this dreadful disease.”