Dame Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport, has met with the Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, to discuss her campaign for a Childhood Cancer Mission.

Alongside Charlotte Fairall, founder of the charity Sophie’s Legacy, Caroline met with Steve Barclay to discuss progress on measures to improve the detection, treatment and care for children with cancer.

The meeting comes shortly after Childhood Cancer Month, in September, in which Caroline raised the Childhood Cancer Mission with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Caroline has been campaigning with Stubbington resident Charlotte, whose daughter Sophie passed away from an aggressive form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma, at the age of just 10, in September 2021.

Since then, Caroline and Charlotte have been working to develop and implement a strategy with 5 areas to improve:

  1. Timely diagnosis: national signs and symptoms campaign, referral pathway, standardised education materials for health & care professionals.
  2. Pioneering research: identification of new treatment, funded research of screening and surveillance and a systematic review of research priorities.
  3. Excellent patient experience: availability of quality food, play specialists 7 days a week and an under 16 patient experience survey.
  4. World-class treatment: access to new and less toxic treatment, timely genomic testing, offer of HPV vaccine to all children, age-appropriate care.
  5. Quality survivorship: evidence based mental health interventions, mental health support to immediate family, long-term psychosocial support for survivors, single point of access follow up care.

Despite numerous meetings with officials and ministers from the Department of Health & Social Care, including the Secretary of State on previous occasions, the government are yet to publish a Childhood Cancer Action Plan. However, the meeting gave Caroline and Charlotte an opportunity to continue pushing for the Mission to be implemented, and for the Secretary of State to update them on progress made.

Commenting after the meeting, Caroline said: “Today’s meeting with the Secretary of State was productive, and it’s great to hear of the progress made in the Department on implementing our Mission.

“Charlotte and I are very keen to see action. We have been campaigning on this for over two years now, and it’s imperative that improvements are made to the way we detect, treat and care for childhood cancer.

“Discussions with the Secretary of State today were very positive with some exciting prospects in the pipeline.”