Primary sources and correspondence for claims made by Department of Health and Secretary of State Andrew Lansley

Chris Mason made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Health

The request was partially successful.

From: Chris Mason

12 April 2012

Dear Department of Health,

I am making this Freedom of Information Act request as a result of
being repeatedly ignored by the email address [email address]

I originally emailed the above address on Monday 20 February 2012,
and received an initial response on Tuesday 28 February. However,
since then, three additional emails have all be ignored (sent on
Tuesday 28 February, Friday 9 March, and Wednesday 4 April).

I request the following:

1. Primary source of, and relevant correspondence regarding, claim
that we would save 5,000 lives a year

The below is an extract from Factsheet A1 concerning the Health and
Social Care Bill, published earlier this year:

http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/files/2012/0...

"If we had cancer survival rates at the average in  Europe, we
would save 5,000 lives a year"

I understand that the source for this claim is a single study
published in 2009 by Abdel-Rahman et al:

http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v101/n...

The study looked at data from 1985 to 1999 and estimated the number
of lives that could be saved based on that time period.

This is very different from a claim made in 2012 that 5,000 lives a
year would be saved.

Please can you:

a) confirm whether the claim is based solely on that one study

b) supply any and all email correspondence that was generated
regarding the claim following Dr Ben Goldacre's article on Saturday
16 April 2011 in The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/...

c) supply any and all email correspondence that was generated
regarding the claim when I challenged it by email on Tuesday 28
February 2012:

"Please can you clarify whether you disagree with Dr Goldacre's
analysis, and why it is deemed appropriate to continue using the
figure a year on, as if it were an accurate, contemporary 'fact'
(note the use of the phrase "we would save", rather than "a study
based on data no later than the year 1999 estimated that")"

2. Primary source of, and relevant correspondence regarding, claim
that the cost of medicines is growing by over £600m per year

The below is an extract from Factsheet A1 concerning the Health and
Social Care Bill, published earlier this year:

http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/files/2012/0...

"The cost of medicines is growing by over £600m per year"

Please can you:

a) provide the primary source and raw data used to make the above
claim

b) supply any and all email correspondence that was generated
regarding the claim when I challenged it by email on Tuesday 28
February 2012:

"And on the cost of medicines, please can you provide the relevant
links to the information that forms the basis of that table.
Apologies, but I can't find it in here:

http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/grou...

3. Primary source of claim that we could save up to 10,000 lives a
year

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Andrew Lansley claimed that
(claim made at 05:40):

"If we were to achieve across the main cancers survival after
diagnosis of cancer that was amongst the best in the world, we
could save up to 10,000 lives a year"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17...

Please could you provide the primary source for the above claim.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Mason

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Department of Health

12 April 2012

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Department of Health

4 May 2012


Attachment DE695399 cancer rates.doc
64K Download View as HTML


Our ref: DE00000695399 
 
Dear Mr Mason,
 
Thank you for your FOI correspondence of 12 April about a number of
issues.  I have been asked to reply.

Please find the Department's reply attached.

Yours sincerely,
 
Sarah Walter
Freedom of Information Team
Department of Health
 

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David Jones left an annotation (28 August 2012)

Quote-marks The primary source for the statement made in 2012 was a study published in the British Journal of Cancer by Abdel-Rahman et al (2009).

Subjects included 2.8 million adults diagnosed in Britain between 1985 and 1999. The Conservative government was in power for most of this period.

In the conclusion, Abdel-Rahman was careful to frame the study in context both by referring to the period during which the data was collected and by expressing premature mortality relative to the total number of cancer deaths.

"Avoidable premature mortality among cancer patients diagnosed in Britain during 1985-1999 has represented 6-7% of cancer-related mortality compared with the mean survival in Europe"

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