John Baron MP raises local NHS accountability in Health Questions

February 7, 2017

MP says CCGs must face robust accountability on cancer performance

During Health Questions in the House of Commons today, John Baron MP asked the Minister for Public Health, David Mowat MP, about the accountability of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for their one-year cancer survival statistics. Since April 2015, CCGs have been held accountable through the Assurance Framework for their performance in this area, but it remains unclear what happens to CCGs whose cancer metrics fail to improve.

John asked,

“The recently-introduced one-year cancer survival rates are a beacon of light in a system which is too dependent on process targets. What more can the Government do to hold underperforming CCGs to account for this outcome indicator, given that we are still failing to catch up with international averages when it comes to one-year cancer survival rates?

The Minister replied that the one-year cancer figures reveal over a 10% difference between the best- and worst-performing CCGs. He stated that though transparency is important, the 16 newly-formed Cancer Alliances will investigate best practice and will ‘bear down upon’ poor performance.

John said afterwards,

“Whilst process targets have their use, focusing on outcomes is the best way of giving CCGs the latitude to find local solutions to improve survival rates. The one-year cancer survival rates enable CCGs to identify and pursue initiatives tailored to the needs and circumstances of their populations, and thereby drive improvements in areas such as earlier diagnosis.”

“However, there needs to be robust accountability, so that consistently underperforming CCGs face consequences. This is essential if the NHS is to improve on cancer, and close the gap with other healthcare systems. In Sweden, 82% of cancer patients survive at least one year from diagnosis, whereas the figure in England is around 70%.”

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