The Independent Cancer Taskforce recently published a new report: Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020, which sets out recommendations for a new cancer strategy in England.
The strategy outlined looks very promising, and many of the plans will have a positive impact upon our community, especially considering our representation on many cancer groups.
The report itself has breadth and depth and builds on everything that has gone before it (back to Calman Hine in 1995, the 2000 Cancer Plan, 2007 Cancer Reform Strategy, 2011 Cancer Outcomes Strategy). It is well grounded in research and has a sense of reality about it. It is do-able. It pulls together, for the first time, the disparate strands of early diagnosis, data and information, and survivorship.
And through our representation on the NCIN and the NCRI, we are well placed to wave the flag for brain tumours, so that the plans for world class outcomes can also reach our community.
The report highlights what we have been shouting about – that there isn’t enough resource to deliver. We need more radiologists, oncologists, radiographers, clinical nurse specialists. The report also notes the decline and decay in Radiotherapy. This is important. brainstrust is a strong voice in the Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Research Working Group and Helen, our Director of Services and Policy, is on the executive for this. Radiotherapy has been neglected for far too long. Of those people who survive cancer, 40% can attribute their cure to treatment which includes Radiotherapy. After surgery, it is the most effective cure for cancer in the UK. So it’s good to see that new investment in radiotherapy services has been proposed, so that more patients can have effective access to this treatment.
Another key aspect of the report is this- “From the point of cancer diagnosis onwards, we recommend giving all consenting patients online access to all test results and other communications…”. This is something which we’ve had a big part in making possible for the brain tumour community, through creating the Patient Information Portal, and the fact that the strategy pushes for this to become commonplace is of great significance.
We are delighted about the emphasis on palliative and end of life care, something that is highly relevant to our community. It is good too that oncology and supportive care are linked in this strategy, as this is about collaboration and connectedness. We know that supportive care lacks leadership, resource and has multiple provider agencies, none of which are managed. But again, with our representation on the Palliative and Supportive Care groups at the NCRI, we are well placed to be shouting about this, so that you can get the best support after diagnosis and during recovery and subquently achieve a good quality of life, sooner.
What we also love is the emphasis on stratified medicine, peer review and most importantly, patient voice. This means that your voice is finally being heard and making a difference.
Overall, the strategy is to be embraced and welcomed. And it can only be a force for good. It is great that it reinforces our direction and will underpin what we have already been focussing on. It’s a true example of the virtuous circle, where we take what our community needs, translate this into our policy drivers and then it is underpinned by national policy.
Click HERE to read the full report.