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Cancer treatment decisions given to NHS

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The decision over whether to scrap Labour’s cancer treatment guarantee will be made by the NHS commissioning board, Downing Street has clarified.

Following a Commons dispute over whether the two-week cancer target was being ditched, Mr Cameron’s official spokesman told reporters at a regular Westminster press briefing: “The real position here is that these decisions are no longer for politicians, they are now for the NHS commissioning board.

“Of course, politicians take responsibility, but the decisions on what targets are appropriate to drive the right outcomes should be taken by the people who understand the processes in the NHS.”

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman had accused Mr Cameron of having “dodged” the issue at prime minister’s questions after he refused to say directly whether the guarantee would be retained.

Mr Cameron told her: “If a target contributes to good clinical outcomes, it stays. If it doesn’t, it goes.”

Ms Harman retorted: “He is obviously ditching the guarantee for cancer patients, but he hasn’t got the guts to admit to this House.”

Health minister Simon Burns then intervened, confirming that the right to see a specialist within two weeks would remain.

Interviewed later on BBC Radio 4’s The World At One, Mr Burns insisted that there was no change to the commitment to cancer patients.

“The decision on targets was taken on which ones were not clinically justified. It was quite clear that the cancer one was clinically justified and is being kept. There is no question of it going,” he said.

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