Recent parliamentary questions on dermatology (July-September)

16th September
Rosie Cooper MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps NHS England takes to assess the health and social care needs of patients with hidradenitis suppurativa; and what assessment he has made of the ability of the NHS to deliver efficient diagnosis and access to specialist care for such patients.

Jane Ellison MP: NHS England works in partnership with local commissioners and providers to ensure people with long-term conditions, such as hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), are supported to live healthily and independently and are empowered to take better control over the care they receive.

The majority of patients with HS can be managed through routine access to primary and secondary care, including dermatology clinics, which is responsibility of the local National Health Service commissioners. Treatment and management of the condition involves antibiotics, antiseptic washes and immunosuppressive treatments such as steroids or ciclosporin, which a general practitioner may prescribe.

For those patients with the more serious forms of HS, referral to a specialised dermatology service may be appropriate. NHS England commissions services for people with rare and complex skin conditions, including HS, and has set out what providers must have in place in order to offer specialist dermatology care. This supports equity of access to a high quality service for patients wherever they live. These services may provide more intensive therapies with the involvement of a range of health and care professionals, subject to a patient’s needs. More information can be found by viewing the specialised dermatology service specification at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/a12-spec-dermatology.pdf

Rosie Cooper MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what progress has been made by NHS England on the production of a commissioning policy for treatments associated with hidradenitis suppurativa; what the proposed scope of that policy is; and when he expects that policy to have been fully developed.

Jane Ellison MP: NHS England works in partnership with local commissioners and providers to ensure people with long-term conditions, such as hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), are supported to live healthily and independently and are empowered to take better control over the care they receive.

The majority of patients with HS can be managed through routine access to primary and secondary care, including dermatology clinics, which is responsibility of the local National Health Service commissioners. Treatment and management of the condition involves antibiotics, antiseptic washes and immunosuppressive treatments such as steroids or ciclosporin, which a general practitioner may prescribe.

For those patients with the more serious forms of HS, referral to a specialised dermatology service may be appropriate. NHS England commissions services for people with rare and complex skin conditions, including HS, and has set out what providers must have in place in order to offer specialist dermatology care. This supports equity of access to a high quality service for patients wherever they live. These services may provide more intensive therapies with the involvement of a range of health and care professionals, subject to a patient’s needs. More information can be found by viewing the specialised dermatology service specification at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/a12-spec-dermatology.pdf

15th September

Jim Shannon MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will make available on the NHS the skin cancer injection treatment Opdivo.

George Freeman MP:  The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently appraising nivolumab (Opdivo) for the treatment of melanoma.

In the absence of guidance from NICE, it is for commissioners to make decisions on whether to fund new medicines based on an assessment of the available evidence.

14th September

Carolyn Harris MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what the timeline is for the NICE Single Technology Appraisal of nivolumab for the treatment of melanoma.

George Freeman MP:  The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) currently expects to publish its first technology appraisal on the use of nivolumab (Opdivo) for the treatment of melanoma in May 2016. Further information is available at:

www.nice.org.uk/guidance/indevelopment/gid-tag515

NICE is also developing technology appraisal guidance on the use of nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab (Yervoy) for the treatment of melanoma and expects to issue final guidance in September 2016.

Carolyn Harris MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, when he expects nivolumab to be available to NHS melanoma patients.
George Freeman MP: The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently developing technology appraisal guidance on the use of nivolumab (Opdivo) for the treatment of melanoma.

In the absence of guidance from NICE, it is for commissioners to make decisions on whether to fund new medicines based on an assessment of the available evidence.

We take the issue of ensuring rapid access to innovative therapies very seriously, which is why we have launched an Accelerated Access Review to make recommendations to Government on speeding up access for National Health Service patients to innovative and cost effective new medicines, diagnostics and medical technologies.

7th September

 

Pauline Latham MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent discussions he has had on the availability of nivolumab for melanoma patients through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
George Freeman MP: We have had no such discussions.

NHS England is responsible for the operational management of the Cancer Drugs Fund. It has taken a decision not to consider new drugs like nivolumab, at this stage, whilst consideration is given to new ways of working and to ensure that the Fund remains within budget.

We understand that NHS England and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence will shortly be consulting jointly on a proposed new system for commissioning cancer drugs.

The Government remains committed to the Fund which has so far helped over 72,000 people in England access the cancer drugs their doctors recommend for them.

 21st July

Carolyn Harris MP
:
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what discussions his Department has had with NHS England on providing additional funding for skin cancer specialist nurses.

Jane Ellison: NHS England has published a service specification for adult skin cancer services which sets out what the National Health Service must have in place to offer high quality skin cancer treatment, care and support. Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) are an integral part of the support for patients diagnosed and treated for cancer. We know from the Cancer Patient Experience Survey that patients with a CNS report a better experience.

CNSs feature in all the cancer peer review measures on which multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) in hospitals are assessed, including skin cancer MDTs. The expectation is that providers have CNSs in place for each tumour area.

 20th July

Carolyn Harris MPTo ask the Secretary of State for Health, what discussions his Department has had on the availability of new treatments for (a) skin cancer patients and (b) patients with advanced melanoma.

George Freeman MPA number of drugs for the treatment of skin cancers including melanoma are licensed and are available for use on the National Health Service, subject to funding decisions by the relevant commissioner.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended a number of drugs for skincancers and melanoma and is currently developing technology appraisal guidance on several new treatments. In addition, NICE is developing a clinical guideline on the assessment and management of melanoma and its final guidance is expected to be published later this month.

We take the issue of ensuring rapid access to innovative therapies very seriously, which is why we have launched an Accelerated Access Review to make recommendations to Government later in the year on speeding up access for NHS patients to innovative and cost effective new medicines, diagnostics and medical technologies.

Margaret Ritchie MPTo ask the Secretary of State for Health, what the timetable is for his Department’s analysis of the data from the skin cancer Be Clear on Cancer pilot.

 Jane Ellison MPPublic Health England (PHE) ran a local Be Clear on Cancer pilot campaign in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset from 16 June – 27 July 2014 to raise awareness of the signs of skin cancer. The campaign was aimed at people over the age of 50 and the key message was “A change to a mole isn’t the only sign of skin cancer. If you notice any persistent or unusual changes to your skin, tell your doctor”. The campaign included radio, press, digital and outdoor advertising.

Early results from the pilot are encouraging and are currently being evaluated. PHE can confirm that there will be a full and final evaluation report published for the local skin cancer pilot campaign as soon as possible, when analysis of all metrics is complete. However, in advance of a final evaluation report, PHE aims to publish an interim report containing the public awareness and knowledge levels and the results from the analysis of cancer waiting times data during summer 2015.