NHS England pledges £130m in new cancer treatment funding

Published: 14 November 2016 Ezine

NHS England has pledged an investment of £130m to upgrade radiotherapy equipment and ‘transform cancer treatment’ for patients across England.

Over the next two years, older Linac machines will be upgraded or replaced, ensuring patients get access to the latest technology regardless of where they live. 

The investment will pay for over 100 replacements or upgrades of radiotherapy machines in hospitals around England.

Despite advice recommending equipment be replaced every ten years, the previous major national investment in NHS radiotherapy machines was in the early 2000s.

In announcing the investment at NHS England's Annual General Meeting last month, Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive, emphasised the importance of radiotherapy, stating that up to half of NHS cancer patients who are cured benefit from radiotherapy.

Charlotte Beardmore, Director of Professional Policy at the Society of Radiographers, said: “Whilst the announcement is good news, there is still much more to do in improving outcomes for cancer patients.

“Investment in the workforce, including radiographers and in diagnostic equipment, will be essential in ensuring timely access to treatments and improved outcomes.”

Richard Evans, Society CEO, added: “It is good to see a renewed emphasis to support radiotherapy.

"What cancer patients urgently need and deserve to see is that this support is sustained so that equipment is always up to date and the workforce is always sufficient to deliver the best treatment possible.”

The announcement coincides with the publication of the Independent Cancer Taskforce annual report.

The report outlines the progress made by NHS England in its objective to make progress in reducing preventable cancers, to increase cancer survival and to improve patient experience and quality of life by 2020

Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, added: “Quickly replacing older radiotherapy machines and giving patients the most modern treatment that will give them the best chance of survival, while also reducing side effects.

“Technological advances in recent years have been immense, and this investment in state-of-the-art equipment will change the face of cancer treatment across England.”

Professor Nick Slevin, Chair of the Radiotherapy Clinical Reference Group, said: "There has been a big focus recently across England on expanding access to chemotherapy, including the repurposed NHS cancer drugs fund, but it is radiotherapy that often is actually curative for our patients.

“State of the art radiotherapy equipment will result in improved cure rates and less side effects for patients.”