Henry Smith MP speech in the House of Commons Debate on the NHS Long-Term Plan

Full text of Henry Smith MP's speech in the House of Commons Debate on the NHS Long-Term Plan, 19th February 2019.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak in this debate on the NHS long-term plan. I have the privilege of being the chair of the all-party group on heart and circulatory diseases—I took over chairing it last year—and I was very pleased to set up the all-party group on blood cancer in 2016. I would like to speak about both of those in turn.

There are over 130 types of blood cancer, each with its own unique symptoms, treatments and side effects. It is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and, sadly, the third biggest cancer killer, with about 40,000 people diagnosed with each year. The rate at which it affects people is far greater than for breast and prostate cancer combined. Indeed, one in 19 people will be diagnosed with a blood cancer in their lifetimes, and about 240,000 people currently live with blood cancer in the UK.

The NHS long-term plan sets out a number of areas that affect blood cancer. On early diagnosis, the ambition to have 75% of all cancers diagnosed by stage 1 or stage 2 by 2028 is welcome, as many blood cancers are very difficult to diagnose at an early stage. A recent parliamentary answer from the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Steve Brine), to the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) stated that there are 17 cancer sites for which no staging system exists and 67 cancer sites that are unstageable. Some blood cancers fall into these categories, and I would be grateful for clarification and assurances that these will be addressed.​

I turn briefly to heart disease. Heart and circulatory disease still causes a quarter of all deaths in the UK. On average, it kills one person every three minutes or 420 people each day. The number of people living with heart and circulatory disease also remains high, at 5.9 million people across England, and there are over 42,000 premature deaths from cardiovascular disease each year in the UK.

I am delighted to see that the NHS long-term plan has a renewed focus on the prevention and early detection of the risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases. Four in 10 adults with high blood pressure remain undiagnosed, and it is estimated that one in five of those who have been diagnosed are not being optimally treated. By identifying more people who have these conditions, we can help to manage their risk and save more money and of course, crucially, lives.

I welcome the work that the voluntary sector does in supporting the NHS, and I am grateful to the Government for investing £20.5 billion more each year for the next five years in this very important service.