A strategy for cancer
Macmillan was part of an Independent Taskforce created to improve survival rates and experiences of people affected by cancer. The Taskforce has developed a new report called Achieving world-class cancer outcomes - A strategy for England 2015-2020. This sets out a proposed new five-year cancer strategy for England.
The Taskforce is now working to ensure that the strategy is properly implemented to best support people affected by cancer, particularly during and after treatment.
What does the new strategy cover?
The report makes recommendations for how to improve care across the whole cancer journey, from pre-diagnosis to post-treatment. It also includes recommendations on improving access to treatments and end of life care.
The six strategic priorities which the report highlights as being particularly important are:
A radical upgrade in preventing cancer, which includes an aim to reduce adult smoking to less than 13% by 2020, and a national plan on obesity.
A national ambition to achieve earlier diagnosis, so that by 2020, 95% of patients referred for testing by a GP receive their results within four weeks.
Ensuring that the experiences of care that people with cancer have are seen as being as important as their safety and the results of their treatment. This will include online access to all tests results and someone who can coordinate their care.
Transformation in support for people living with and beyond cancer, so that by 2020 every person with cancer should have access to the Recovery Package and follow-up care that responds to their needs. Care providers will also become more accountable for improving quality of life, through the development of a new metric to measure this.
Investment to deliver a modern, high-quality service, including plans to address current gaps in the cancer workforce. Another priority is finding a sustainable solution to access to innovative drugs, to build on the Cancer Drugs Fund.
Overhauling how different parts of the system work together, including testing new ways of organising cancer care. It is also recommended that a network of Cancer Alliances should be established to help improve expertise in the development of cancer services across the country.
You can find out more in The Executive Summary of the report, which gives more detail on the six strategic priorities, or in the report on the full strategy.
Who contributed to the strategy?
For the new strategy to be effective, it was crucial that many different experts from across the healthcare system were engaged and involved in developing it.
The Taskforce was Chaired by Harpal Kumar, the Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, and also had members from Royal Colleges, the Department of Health, NHS England, Health Education England and several hospitals and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). See a full list of representatives.
Our Director of Services and Influencing, Juliet Bouverie, represented Macmillan on the Taskforce. We also provided support to the strategy’s Secretariat.
The Taskforce held workshops with various different interested groups, including people with cancer, nurses, doctors and people who commission care. The taskforce also received more than 200 responses when we called for evidence in 2015.
What are the next steps for implementing the strategy?
We think the strategy document is a very important step towards improving cancer care in England. However, more work needs to be done to ensure that its recommendations are put into practice. Macmillan will continue to work to support the implementation of the strategy. We will work with other charities, the NHS and government to ensure that we can make the potential of the strategy into a reality.
In particular, Macmillan is pushing for:
a strong commitment to an ambitious programme of support for people living with and beyond cancer
improvements to cancer patient experience in this country
stronger leadership at a local and national level to drive change.
We are calling for recommendations to be implemented in a timely way, with sufficient funding attached to them.
Our response to the strategy
Responding to the Independent Cancer Taskforce’s five-year strategy for cancer, Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
'Macmillan Cancer Support welcomes the publication of the Independent Cancer Taskforce’s cancer strategy for England. It is an important and ambitious document that reflects the issues which matter most to people affected by cancer.
'But this report has to be more than a set of recommendations on paper. It has to inspire action and lead to meaningful improvements for the lives of people with cancer.
'There are currently a record-high two million people living with cancer in England. And with this number growing every day, improving cancer care across the country has never been more urgent or important.
'We know that cancer is no longer just about being cured or dying from the disease. More people than ever before are living with cancer and its effects and are struggling to cope with the physical, emotional and financial consequences of the disease.
'It is simply not fair that each year, thousands of cancer patients are shown a lack of compassion, struggling with the debilitating effects of treatment, or denied a “good” death. That’s why we need to see urgent action from the government and NHS to implement and fully fund the recommendations in the strategy.
'Doing nothing to address this is simply not an option – and if funding is not provided to support people beyond their diagnosis through to end of life, then not only will people affected by cancer suffer the consequences, but cancer costs could spiral out of control for an already-stretched NHS.'
More about cancer strategies
This is not the first time that a cancer strategy has been produced with the aim of improving services for people with cancer. Find out about the previous cancer strategy.