Tory muddle over cancer treatment policy

The Tories sent out mixed messages over their cancer treatment policy today, with Shadow Chf. Sec. to the Treasury Philip Hammond contradicting party policy.

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond contradicted Conservative policy on cancer treatment today by supporting the Government’s promise to patients to see an oncologist within a fortnight of being diagnosed.

When asked if the Tories would match Labour’s guarantee he told Sky News:

“Yes we have no problems with these proposals.”

But In his speech to the Conservative party conference last month Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said (paragraphs 94-100):

“Top-down command and control must go. Let us be absolutely clear. We will abolish Labour’s political targets. It is a gross insult to doctors and nurses to say that without the targets, they would let patients wait and suffer.

“It is increasing capacity which delivered reduced waiting times. If we build capacity and patients use their choice to drive the access they want, we will see waiting times fall and standards rise. Our vision is to make the NHS the finest health service in the world.

“We will focus on results. One year and five year cancer survival rates at least as good as any in Europe. Not just a two-week referral to a cancer specialist.

And in 2007, the Tories’ health policy document “The patient will see you now, doctor: How the next Conservative Government will create an NHS personal to all” said they would (page 2):

“Scrap top-down targets so that decisions about care are made in relation to the individual needs of patients.”

The paper added (page 4):

“We will scrap all centrally-imposed targets relating to clinical processes, and replace them with a new focus on outcomes.”


David Cameron has just refused to endorse Mr Hammond’s pledge when asked to do so during the Queen’s Speech debate.

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