Big promises to deliver ‘world class cancer services’

Published: 24 May 2016 Ezine

NHS England has set out aspirations to deliver ‘world class cancer services’, which includes a fund to find new ways of speeding up diagnosis.

The plan by the National Cancer Transformation Board, led by Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director for England, is intended to increase prevention, speed up diagnosis, improve the experience of patients and help people living with and beyond cancer.

This follows the release last year of the report of the NHS’s Independent Cancer Taskforce, led by Sir Harpal Kumar, CEO of Cancer Research UK, which identified how the NHS can achieve world-class cancer outcomes and save 30,000 lives a year by 2020.

A £15m investment will involve:
• Creating a National Diagnostics Capacity Fund - to test initiatives to increase capacity and productivity of diagnostic services
• New multidisciplinary diagnostic centres
• New Faster Diagnosis Standard - the ambition is for patients referred for testing by a GP to be definitively diagnosed with cancer, or have cancer ruled out, within four weeks.

The NHS will also set up Cancer Alliances made up of clinical and other local leaders from across different health and care settings. These alliances will review all data for their area, including survival, early diagnosis rates, treatment outcomes, patient experience and quality of life, and use it to pinpoint areas for local improvement.

To support this, the NHS has brought together all the data available in one place to create a new integrated ‘dashboard’ for cancer. The dashboard will also include data on patient experience to start conversations locally through Cancer Alliances.

Professor Chris Harrison, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, said: “The NHS is seeing 50% more patients with suspected cancer than four years ago and survival rates have never been higher. But there is still more we can do to ensure all people have a consistently good experience of care and support.

Other actions in the plan include:
• To provide the best radiotherapy treatment, the NHS needs to modernise and upgrade its equipment. NHS England says it will ‘focus on the highest priority replacements/upgrades for the greatest patient impact’.
• Developing a future workforce vision to deliver modern patient-centred cancer services – to ensure there are sufficient numbers of sonographers, radiographers, and radiologists.
• Rolling out the ‘Recovery Package’ to ensure that the individual needs of all people going through cancer treatment and beyond are met by tailored support and services.
• The Cancer Vanguard, led by the Christie in Manchester, and The Royal Marsden and UCLH in London, will test models that introduce more formal accountability for whole pathway and population service planning and provision.

Click here to download the Cancer Implementation strategy document.