The new public health agenda – the impact on early diagnosis
This discussion focused on the impact of the new public health agenda and its impact on early diagnosis of cancer.
Sara Hiom, Director of Information for Cancer Research UK, Amy Harding, Head of Education and Advocacy from the Teenage Cancer Trust, and Claire Macdonald from the Cancer Prevention and Early Diagnosis Project Team at London Health Improvement Board, discussed the impact of the new public health agenda and its impact on early diagnosis of cancer in a breakout session chaired by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin.
The discussion panel prepare to kick things off.
During the session, Delegates heard from speakers their perspective of the potential challenges and opportunities that the new public health agenda will have on improving early diagnosis rates for cancer.
Sara Hiom outlined what the reforms looked like and identified the key role that local Health and Wellbeing Boards will play in ensuring that local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) work effectively together to ensure cancer patients have access to quality services in a local area. Sara identified raising awareness amongst the public and removing barriers to presentation of symptoms as crucial areas to address. She also highlighted the need to raise awareness of cancer symptoms amongst GPs.
Amy Harding spoke about the work of the Teenage Cancer Trust, particularly in its role of raising awareness amongst young people about cancer. Late diagnosis was a particular problem for young people with cancer due to symptoms being ignored and low awareness of the impact of cancer on young people. The Trust’s work therefore aimed to provide young people with information and to empower young people to understand the issues. In the new public health structure, with its increased role of local authorities, a key challenge would be in building relationships with Local Education Authorities.
Raising the awareness of cancer amongst Londoners is a key aim of the London Health Improvement Board, and Claire MacDonald spoke about the new Boards campaigns on prevention and the early diagnosis of cancer. The Board has three stated ambitions on prevention (Smoke Free London), early diagnosis (Talk Cancer), and screening (London Screening). The Board represents collaboration between the GLA, NHS London, and the 33 London local authorities, and is focussed upon pan-London public awareness campaigns.
Some of the key opportunities raised during the session were that by having local priority setting and locally designed initiatives; this could help to reflect local needs. Some of the key risks raised were on lack of funding for local areas, lack of local expertise in the area of rarer cancers making it harder for people with rarer cancers to receive adequate local support.