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Henry Smith MP: World Cancer Day and launching an inquiry into genomic medicine

In his article this week Crawley MP Henry Smith talks about World Cancer Day and an inquiry into genomic medicine.

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World Cancer Day

This week in Parliament I’ve been proudly wearing my Unity Band in support of World Cancer Day, which takes place each year on 4th February.

We all know someone who has had cancer, and I welcome the commitments in the NHS Long-Term Plan to increase the number of people diagnosed with cancer at stage 1 or 2 to 75 per cent by 2028, ensure 55,000 more people each year survive cancer for at least five years after diagnosis, and the launch of Rapid Diagnostic Centres across the country to transform diagnostic services and improve patient pathways.

The NHS Funding Bill will increase support for the National Health Service, with an annual boost of £33.9 billion by 2023-24. During the House of Commons debate on this legislation last month I spoke about the work of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer which I founded and chair.

Now the Group has been reconstituted following the General Election, we’re continuing with our inquiry into genomic medicine in blood cancer. We’ve put out a call for evidence which is open until 16th March. Genomics is the study of the genome; all 3.2 billion letters (or ‘bases’) of a person’s DNA. There are around 20,000 genes within a person’s genome, these are akin to the instructions for making the proteins our bodies are built from.

Genomic medicine will provide benefits to both the biomedical research community and individual patients; potentially offering a more accurate diagnosis, and in turn, appropriate treatments and access to clinical trials.

The NHS will be the first healthcare system in the world to systematically introduce whole genome sequencing into routine healthcare.

In order to ensure blood cancer patients can make the most of the benefits afforded by genomic medicine we need to ensure the new Genomic Medicine Service is fit for purpose and integrated seamlessly into the wider NHS. This’ll be one of the key areas of the inquiry’s focus, which will have patients and their support networks at its heart.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

Henry Smith

Henry Smith MP: Victory in Europe Day 75 years on

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At 11am on Friday, 8th May, our nation will fall silent for two minutes, to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and in honour of all those who gave their lives for our freedom.

As the Royal British Legion have said, there is no right or wrong way to take part in the silence. Some people may choose to stand at the window or step outside the front door, and I encourage all in Crawley to spend this time to think of the events which took place three quarters of a century ago.

Alongside a host of television and radio broadcasts, the Royal British Legion have also developed a VE Day learning pack which is designed for seven to 14 year olds, with first-hand accounts from the Second World War generation, interviews with veterans and a variety of activities to help families explore and commemorate VE Day together.

I am grateful to Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex County Council for their work to ensure this important anniversary can be marked remotely given the current COVID-19 pandemic social distancing restrictions. This will include posting items on social media from the Crawley Library archives, as well as a range of resources available online from the West Sussex Record Office.

My thanks as well to St John’s Church, whose celebration service will also take place remotely on Friday.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the general election where I was first elected to Parliament. It is not lost on me that were it not for the bravery of those who defeated the threat to our freedom in the Second World War, we would not have a functioning democracy and a free country today.

When the clock strikes 11am on Friday my thoughts will be of the individuals from the UK and right across the free world who stood up for our way of life, including the service of those from what would soon become the New Town of Crawley.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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