Editorial Thursday 24 November 2011:
Goodness me, Mr Lansley's media advisers are doing a bad job.
His 'think'-piece in today's Telegraph has all the hallmarks of serious political incompetence.
Britain's cancer performance is worse than that of many comparable European countries, but has been steadily improving, as the National Audit Office unambiguously found in November 2010. More to the point, our performance on cancer has been comparatively poor for a long time.
The NAO report rightly concluded that "a lack of high quality information on costs of cancer services and their outcomes inhibits substantial further improvements". Mr Lansley's proposed 45% cut in NHS management by 2014-15 is scarcely likely to help.
The pretext for Mr Lansley's text is the new OECD report - so what does it say about Britain?
"Although survival rates for different cancers are improving in the UK, most other OECD countries achieve higher rates ... The 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer during 2004-2009 was 81%, up from 75% during 1997-2002, but still lower than the OECD average of 84%. For cervical cancer, it was 59%, also lower than the OECD average of 66%. And for colorectal cancer, the 5-year relative survival rate in the UK during 2004-2009 was 54% for females and 53% for males, compared with an OECD average of 62% for females and 60% for males.