Dame Caroline Dinenage, Member of Parliament for Gosport, has marked Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and pushed the Prime Minister to publish a Childhood Cancer Action Plan in Prime Minister’s Questions today.

September also marks two years since the death of Caroline’s constituent, Sophie Fairall. She passed away from an aggressive form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma, at the age of just 10 years old.

Caroline has been working for many months with Sophie’s mum, Charlotte Fairall, to develop and campaign for a Childhood Cancer Mission. Charlotte has since founded the charity Sophie’s Legacy to campaign for the Mission.

The Mission includes 5 points for the government to act on:

  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, the government are yet to publish their Childhood Cancer Action Plan.

Caroline asked the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak: “September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but it also marks two years since the death of my constituent, Sophie Fairall. She was only 10 years old.

“Every day in the UK, 10 young people will be diagnosed with cancer, and 2 of those will not survive. Those that do face a lifetime of side effects from treatments that are just not designed for small bodies.

“When will the Prime Minister publish a Childhood Cancer Action Plan?”

The Prime Minister responded: “Can I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue and extend my sympathies to her constituent’s family that she has raised.

“She’s right to continue campaigning in this important area. I hope she’ll understand that I can’t pre-empt the content specifically of the strategy, but I can tell her that it will draw on previous work, including submissions from childhood cancer charities and stakeholders to our recent calls for evidence.

“Of course, we want to hear from them to highlight and get a sense of the issues that she specifically raised, but I’ll ensure that we write to her to give a sense of timing.”

Commenting after, Caroline said: “I look forward to receiving the timeline for implementation of the Childhood Cancer Action plan soon.

“This Childhood Cancer Mission would fundamentally change the way we treat, detect and care for childhood cancer.  It will save lives.

“I will continue to push the government on this, until a Childhood Cancer Mission is put into place.”