A Macmillan nurse talking to a woman in a hospital setting

The new Cancer Plan – your chance to shape the future of cancer care

Published: 24 February 2022

A new cancer plan for England is on the horizon and Macmillan wants to ensure that cancer professionals’ views shape the future of cancer care. Macmillan’s CEO, Lynda Thomas, outlines what this means for the cancer services and the workforce, and how you can have your say on the new plan.

Lynda Thomas CEO

Lynda Thomas CEO, Macmillan Cancer Support

What we know about the new plan

As our Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid set out his vision for a new cancer plan on World Cancer Day, I had a distinct feeling of déjà vu. Just three years ago, I co-chaired the national group developing the cancer section of the NHS Long Term Plan, which outlined a series of milestones for cancer services. Yet only a few years later, we have more change on the horizon.

The new plan is wide in its scope. The government has set up a ‘Call for Evidence’, a consultation inviting ideas and evidence on six priority areas:

  • the workforce
  • personalised care and prevention
  • health inequalities (particularly around early diagnosis)
  • building the diagnostic and treatment capacity for service recovery
  • research and data.

An opportunity for change

I am genuinely excited about the opportunity to shape the new cancer plan, for three reasons:

  1. The world has profoundly changed since the Long Term Plan and it is no longer fit for purpose
    Our incredible professionals have had to grapple with monumental challenges through the pandemic, some of which are laid bare in the long waiting times people now face, with December figures showing more than 46,000 people waiting to see a cancer specialist.

    Services now face an uphill climb to tackle the cancer backlog. Macmillan’s modelling estimates that the NHS in England would need to work at 110% capacity for a further 16 months to catch up on missing cancer diagnoses and for 12 months to clear the cancer treatment backlog.

    The pandemic has already aggravated the workforce challenges that services have been battling for many years. By our calculations, there will be a gap of more than 3,300 specialist nurses in England by 2030. That’s not even beginning to factor in all the support workers, primary care nurses, Allied Health Professionals, GPs and other medical professionals, and many, many others we’ll need to recruit and retain. Macmillan will be using every opportunity to shout from the rooftops about the need for a properly funded workforce strategy to be at the heart of the new plan.
  2. The new plan is being led from the heart of government and driven by the Health Secretary’s personal passion to improve cancer outcomes
    Sajid Javid has spoken openly about what a difference Macmillan professionals made to his father’s cancer care, so we know he understands your unique role. This is a big opportunity to lobby for the investment in the workforce redesign, CPD and skills we need to equip our NHS for the cancer care we’ll need by 2032.
  3. The new plan offers the chance to focus on things that really matter to people with cancer
    I’m pleased and proud that personalised care is one of the plan’s six priority areas. Macmillan professionals are vital to the high-quality personalised support that people with cancer rely on. Yet we know that your intense workload and staffing gaps mean that delivering personalised care is a huge challenge. We’ll be putting personalised care front and centre of our response to the plan’s Call for Evidence.

How to get involved

Macmillan wants to make sure our influencing work on the plan reflects the issues that are most important to you, so we can improve cancer services now and for the future. I’m delighted that we’ve created a webpage for you to post the top priorities you want us to share with Sajid Javid.

If you have more time, you can also complete the Government's consultation and/or take part in an e-focus group by emailing Clare Woodford in Macmillan’s Policy team to help influence this work further.

Thank you for your help.