Britain Against Cancer Conference 2018

Britain Against Cancer was held on 4th December 2018 in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster.

The conference was attended by over 375 delegates, who heard from high profile keynote speakers including Jonathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director for NHS England and Nic Dakin MP, Chair of the APPG on Cancer.

This year’s conference celebrated the 20th anniversary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer. It saw us look back on the progress that has been made by the cancer community and looked ahead at the future of cancer care in the UK, as well as discussion on the long-term funding of the NHS. The conference was an exciting chance to meet and welcome APPGC’s new Chair, Nic Dakin MP. He addressed the cancer sector and reflected on where we have come from, the future of cancer services and what still needs to be done to improve outcomes for patients. Throughout the day, in speeches, panel discussions and speaker stage exhibitions, three main themes were highlighted as essential priorities to be addressed; the challenge of the NHS workforce, improving early diagnosis for all cancers and the need for dedicated investment and commitment to personalised patient care.

Delegates also heard from an expert panel hosted by Nick Robinson, BBC Today Programme presenter, including Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, Lynda Thomas, CEO of Macmillan Cancer Support, Dr. Richard Roope, Cancer Research UKs Senior Clinical Advisor and patient advocate Paul Carless. 

‘A New Strategy for Cancer Care’ ⁠— New Statesman publication

The conference launched the New Statesman publication, ‘A New Strategy for Cancer Care’, looking at new methods of providing world-class cancer care and support. Articles by Cally Palmer, Nic Dakin MP and Lynda Thomas are included.

Read the articles here.


Notes from the nine BAC Talk sessions, along with the expert panel and keynotes from the day can be found below:

Keynote speeches

A still of Jonathan Ashworth MP while he is addressing the audience at Britain Against Cancer conference 2018. More info

Jon Ashworth MP

Opening the conference, Jonathan Ashworth MP told delegates that it is vital cancer is at the heart of the government’s vision for the next decade of healthcare. In his speech, he highlighted the importance of a holistic needs assessment to enable cancer care professionals to tailor physical and emotional support for patients, and pinpointed addressing the pressures on the cancer workforce as his biggest priority.  

In his keynote speech, he told the conference that workforce is his biggest priority, in particular creating a sustainable workforce with investment directed to non-clinical staff. Ashworth ended by quoting Macmillan’s Lynda Thomas, 'as well as adding more years to life, we need to add life to those years. A cancer system that prioritises living well with cancer as well as living longer is the very least that cancer patients deserve'.

You can read Jon Ashworth’s full speech here

A still of a woman mid-speech at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer's 2018 conference. More info

Anita Brown

Patient speaker Anita Brown delivered a fantastic speech reflecting on her personal experiences of living with a terminal diagnosis of small cell bladder cancer. Her emotional speech stood out as a key moment of the conference, reminding everyone of the reality of the rollercoaster that is having cancer, and the importance of patient voices in cancer care and influencing work.

Cally Palmer is mid-conversation with Fran Woodward at the Britain Against Cancer conference 2018 More info

Cally Palmer, Nation Cancer Director for NHS England

Delegates also heard from Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director for NHS England. She reflected on some of the progresses that have been made within cancer care in the past decades, and touched on the challenges of early detection, tackling unwanted geographical variation, addressing workforce issues and the rapid roll-out of technology and treatment. Palmer acknowledged the concerns raised by the conference about the NHS workforce and announced that the NHS will be looking to improve training numbers through apprenticeships and changing job roles within the NHS, which will be outlined in the next spending review.


Expert panel

A still of the expert panel in mid conversation at Britain Against Cancer 2018 conference. More info

Expert Panel

BBC Today programme presenter, Nick Robinson, also chaired a lively panel discussion, in which panelists discussed a range of issues. This included patient support, the role of GPs as gate openers to diagnostics and the importance of the NHS workforce.

On the panel were Lynda Thomas (CEO of Macmillan), Richard Murray (Director of Policy, The King’s Fund), Paul Carless (Patient Representative) and Dr. Richard Roope (Cancer Research UK’s Senior Clinical Advisor). Each were all able to provide difference perspectives on the future priorities for cancer care. During the session, a theme that came out strongly is that cancer is a game of two halves — quantity and quality. The overarching theme of the day was that survival and quality of life are both critical to cancer care, and should be prioritised alongside a NHS workforce that can deliver them.


The BAC Exhibition and Speaker Stage

A group watch as a speaker presents on key issues facing the cancer community. More info

The BAC Exhibiton and Speaker Stage

Throughout the conference, exhibition stalls hosted by colleagues in the NHS, third and private sectors, as well as speaker stage presentations on the key issues facing the cancer community were attended and discussed by delegates. The diverse needs of cancer patients were referenced throughout the day. Macmillan’s stand featured an interactive board which showed a variety of questions that people affected by cancer go through at different points in their cancer journey. Many delegates, including the Shadow Health Secretary, Jon Ashworth MP and the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care Steve Brine MP, took the time to select three of these points. In doing so, they were able to highlight how everyone’s cancer journey is different and how difficult it is to prioritise concerns.

The Speaker Stage proved a hit with delegates, who heard from a variety of speakers including the European Cancer Patient Coalition, the Advanced Cancers Coalition (ACC), Cancer Research UK, Bristol-Myers Squibb, C the Signs, the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, Novartis, The Institute of Cancer Research and a guest appearance by Karen Lee MP.


Britain Against Cancer 2017

Access the keynote speeches, expert panels and BAC talks from the 2017 BAC conference. The conference highlighted the inquiry report on the England Cancer Strategy as it reaches its halfway stage.

Britain Against Cancer 2016

Access the keynote speeches, expert panels and BAC talks from the 2016 BAC conference. The conference highlighted the inquiry report on the England Cancer Strategy.

Britain Against Cancer 2014

The last conference before the General Election, BAC 2014 included for the first time, a keynote speech from NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens.

Britain Against Cancer 2013

Britain Against Caner 2013 saw the launch of the APPG’s report ‘Cancer across the Domains’, which looked at cancer priorities following the Health and Social Care Act 2013.