Department of Health and Social Care
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Comprehensive strategy for NHS cancer services

Comprehensive strategy for NHS cancer services

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by The Government News Network on

Services will do even more for patients

Health Secretary Alan Johnson today launched a comprehensive five-year plan to further improve NHS cancer services.
In the biggest review of cancer services since the successful Cancer Plan of 2000, The NHS Cancer Reform Strategy contains a wide-ranging package of measures to tackle cancer and improve patient care.

Supported by an investment of £370million by 2010, the Cancer Strategy will transform existing cancer care from prevention and diagnoses, through to treatment and aftercare - building a world-class cancer service for NHS patients in England.

Key elements of the strategy include focus on prevention, faster treatment, extended screening, fast-track drug approval and extended services for the increasing numbers of people surviving cancer.

Alan Johnson said:

"Today I have pledged that NHS cancer services will do even more for patients. More to help reduce the risk of developing cancer, more to ensure access to high quality treatment and more to deliver care in the most clinically appropriate and convenient setting for patients.

"Clinicians, patients and cancer charities tell us that cancer care has improved significantly in the last 10 years thanks to investment and reform, but I am determined to go further.

"I want to build world class-cancer services that give NHS patients access to top quality treatment at every stage."

Clinical Director of Cancer Services Mike Richards said:
"We have made good progress on cancer over the past 10 years thanks to the efforts of many people throughout the NHS and voluntary sector.

"However, we know there is much more to be done. The commitments in the Cancer Reform Strategy will enable us to develop world-class cancer services in this country, saving more lives and ensuring patients get the care they deserve."

Ciaran Devane, Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive, said:
"Cancer patients are being diagnosed and treated much quicker today. As a result, more people are surviving the disease. The challenge now is to help these growing numbers live with the long-term medical, emotional and financial effects of cancer.

"Macmillan welcomes the new Cancer Reform Strategy and the strong emphasis it places on improving patients' quality of life."

Amongst a raft of other measures, the Government will look at how to make progress on helping people to quit smoking and decreasing skin cancer rates.

We will consult on banning the sale of tobacco in vending machines, reducing cigarette displays in shops and whether there is potential to look again at packaging on cigarettes. The consultation will end in 2008.

To open the debate about whether we need more regulation of sunbed use in the UK, we plan a review of the use and number of sun beds, including how many coin-operated sun beds there are and where they are. We also need an accurate picture of the extent of sun bed use by those under 18.

Earlier this year the government announced upto £300 million funding to cover a programme of immunisation against cervical cancer. Up to £100 million a year will be provided for vaccination and up to £200 million a year in the catch up programme.

The NHS Cancer Reform Strategy (CRS) will focus on:

Improving prevention

* Help those addicted to tobacco, looking at whether cigarette vending machines should be removed and whether shops display cigarettes less prominently.

* Consulting on possible regulation of sunbeds to help reduce cases of skin cancer and a review on the use and number of sun beds.

* We have recently announced a new HPV vaccine to help reduce cervical cancer.

Earlier diagnosis and treatment

* We will extend the Breast Cancer Screening Programme to all women aged 47 to 73 by 2012

* We are investing £100million in new digital mammography equipment

* The NHS Bowel Screening Programme will be extended from 2010 to all men and women aged 70 to 75

* We will investigate where there are delays at the GP stage of cancer patients treatment and tackle these delays

Improving experience of cancer patients and those living with cancer.

* We will increase radiotherapy capacity over the next three years and invest £200million in new equipment and staff

* Where possible, cancer drugs will in future be referred to NICE in parallel with the licensing process to minimise delays in making new treatments available

* We will extend existing waiting time standards to include more patients. By 2010, the 31 day standard (from decision to treat to the start of first treatment) will cover all cancer treatments, not just the first. This includes access to radiotherapy

Notes to editors

1. The Cancer reform strategy can be found at

2. In September 2000 the Cancer Plan set out the first ever comprehensive programme of action linking prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care and research.

3. Funding - We will be investing a total of £250m in capital equipment for cancer over the next three years. The revenue costs of the strategy are expected to be around £450m by 2010/11. However, we expect the NHS to be able to make savings of £320m by per annum by that time, mainly through eliminating unnecessary hospital admissions for cancer patients.

4. Formula - Capital investment over the three years = £250million + the third year net revenue of £120million which gives a total of £370million by 2010. This is exclusive of the cost of new drugs.

5. Action on tobacco has already led to a fall in smoking rates - from 28% of the population in 1998 to 24% in 2005, amounting to 1.6 million fewer smokers.

6. Cancer facts and figures - The NHS has significantly improved the quality of care for cancer patients in the last 10 years:

* More staff than ever before are caring for people with cancer

* £4.35bn was spent on cancer services in 2005/60

* Over 99% of patients referred urgently by their GP with a suspicion of cancer are now seen within two weeks

* Mortality rates in the under 75s fell by 17% between 1996/2005 saving 60,000 lives

* Survival rates for all common cancers continue to increase, with more than two-thirds of newly-diagnosed patients living for at least five years.

* We are on track to meet our target of a reduction of at least 20% in cancer deaths by 2010.

* The cancer workforce has expanded considerably, with around 49% more consultants specialising in cancer in 2006 than in 1997.

* Over 1,300 items of the most modern equipment has been delivered to diagnose and treat cancer since 2000.

* Over 99 per cent of patients with cancer are receiving their first treatment within one month of diagnosis and nearly 97 per cent of patients with cancer are receiving their first treatment within two months of being referred by their GP.


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