I am glad that cancer survival rates have increased year-on-year over the past decade. Investment in research has been vitally important in achieving this and I recognise the importance of continuing to invest properly in cancer research so that we can continue to drive up survival rates.
Since 2010, over £882 million in government funding has been spent on cancer research across the UK, which is incredibly encouraging. Ground breaking medical research is funded through the National Institute for Health Research, and spending on cancer research has risen from £101 million in 2010/11 to £132 million in 2018/19, the largest investment in a disease area.
However, I know that the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on cancer research, in particular through reduced access to funding for new projects. Therefore, I welcome the announcement in the Spending Review that £5 billion will be invested in health-related research and development, which is an increase of £1.2 billion on previous commitments. I will work with colleagues at the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure this is spent to provide much-needed support for cancer researchers and help strengthen the UK’s ability to improve cancer outcomes through research.
During the pandemic, the country’s ingenuity and endeavour has been used to tackle the virus and I am delighted that the Government is committed to applying this same spirit to tackling cancer. A call for evidence has launched to inform an ambitious 10-Year Cancer Plan, with a renewed focus on innovative treatments and early diagnosis to radically improve outcomes. I know that the Government is keen to hear from far and wide to help shape the Plan and I encourage everyone to take part. You can find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/10-year-cancer-plan-call-for-evidence.
I was encouraged to learn that the Government co-operates closely with Cancer Research UK in jointly funding Experimental Cancer Medicines Centres, a network of 18 adult centres and 11 paediatric locations across the UK. This network brings together world class health researchers and clinicians to work together to generate new approaches for beating cancer.
It is also welcome that cancer diagnosis is at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan. Over the ten years to 2023/24, cancer screening and diagnosis will be overhauled with the aim of detecting 75 per cent of cancers in the early stages compared to around 50 per cent today. This will result in 55,000 more people a year living for at least five years following a cancer diagnosis. The Spending Review 2021 provided £2.3 billion to establish 100 new Community Diagnostics Centres to help deliver this.
I welcome the Government’s commitment to increase public investment by 40 per cent in Research & Development (R&D) outside the Greater South East by 2030. As part of this, the Department of Health and Social Care will be increasing their medical research investment outside London, Oxford and Cambridge. This announcement heralds a great opportunity to increase medical research into conditions like cancer across England over the coming years.
Finally, I would also like to thank you for drawing World Cancer Day 2022 & Cancer Research UK’s 20th Anniversary Parliamentary Drop-In Event to my attention. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this event due to prior Parliamentary commitments. However, please be assured that I do recognise the importance of this particular subject.