Gosport MP marks second anniversary of Sophie Fairall’s death by pushing Rishi Sunak to publish Childhood Cancer Action Plan

Caroline Dineage and Sophie FairallCaroline Dineage and Sophie Fairall
Caroline Dineage and Sophie Fairall
A local MP has marked Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by pushing Rishi Sunak to publish a Childhood Cancer Action Plan.

Dame Caroline Dinenage was speaking in the first Prime Minister’s Questions since Parliament reconvened after their summer break.

This month marks two years since the death of the Gosport MP’s constituent, Sophie Fairall, who passed away from an aggressive form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma, aged just 10.

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Dame Caroline has been working for many months with Sophie’s mum, Charlotte, to develop and campaign for a Childhood Cancer Mission.

The charity Charlotte founded in memory of her daughter, Sophie’s Legacy, is also campaigning for the Mission.

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

1. Timely diagnosis: national signs and symptoms campaign, referral pathway, standardised education materials for health & care professionals.

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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.

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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.

During PMQs, Dame Caroline asked: “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 two 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?”

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

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“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.”