Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Thursday, 15 July 2010 12:24 UK

Two-week target 'retained' for NHS cancer patients

The two-week waiting time target for NHS cancer patients is "clinically justified" and will be retained, Commons Leader Sir George Young confirmed during exchanges on forthcoming business in the chamber on 15 July 2010.

When pressed by acting Labour leader Harriet Harman at question time on Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron did not commit to keeping the guarantee for cancer patients to see a specialist within two weeks.

Shadow Commons leader Rosie Winterton called on Mr Cameron to apologise for "dodging the question, not once but three times" on whether the government was going to abolish the two week cancer guarantee.

She asked Sir George: "Can you tell us when the House can expect a proper answer in this chamber - not in interviews to the media or unattributable briefings from Downing Street - but a clear statement to Parliament on the two-week cancer guarantee, a guarantee which you surely recognise saves lives?

"Patients, doctors and nurses need to know whether this guarantee is in place or not, and they deserve an apology from the prime minister for keeping them in the dark about it."

Sir George replied: "The revision to the NHS Operating Framework in June removed targets on the NHS which were without clinical justification.

"The cancer waiting time targets are clinically justified and have been retained," he said.

His remarks were met with gasps and mutters from Labour backbenchers.

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