LETTERS

I was interested to read the article by Cathy Shipman and colleagues ('Left to chance', page 24, 14 June) which described the current readiness of primary care groups and primary care trusts to take on the responsibility for commissioning cancer services.

The present government in its last term did a great deal to counteract the cancer lottery.

It achieved this both by providing money for scanners and radiotherapy equipment through the new opportunities fund and by setting up the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to give expert advice on new chemotherapy treatments.

The cancer service assessment standards will also do much to equalise rapid access into cancer centres and units.

However, the scope of cancer services is much broader than the high-cost, high-profile activity in the acute sector.

What now remains of the cancer lottery are variations in access to expert care in the community and palliative care.

Additional cancer service assessment standards are to be published shortly for primary care, and here lies a really significant challenge - the variations in prioritising, which were described well in the article.

One of the article's other key points was that PCG and PCTs want help and information in developing cancer services, which will hopefully counteract the possibility of retaining variations in the provision and commissioning of cancer services.

My company, whose purpose is managing the provision of cancer services, is already discussing with a small number of PCTs how we can work together.

David Travis Managing director Cancer Care Consultancy Newcastle-under-Lyme

Topics