King's Fund call for updated Cancer Plan

In collaboration with the Press Association

The NHS's ten-year Cancer Plan should be updated to take into account changes in the way health services are funded and operated, a well-respected think tank has said.

A report from the King's Fund, commissioned by Cancer Research UK, praised successes such as reduced waiting times, increased survival rates and wider access to care that have already been achieved under the original Plan, introduced in 2000.

But it said that fundamental changes in the way the NHS is funded and organised will require an equally fundamental rethink of the way that cancer care policy is steered.

It added that demographic changes such as an ageing population will need to be addressed, as the number of over 65s in the UK grows from 16 per cent in 2004 to 23 per cent by 2031.

Chief executive of Cancer Research UK, Professor Alex Markham, said that the report was a timely intervention in an ongoing debate about public health care and cancer.

"This report reminds us that the 2000 NHS Cancer Plan has been massively successful in transforming cancer services in England, delivering impressive results in the areas it targeted," he said.

"But it also underlines the necessity of updating the Cancer Plan to continue to improve services over the next decade.

"An ageing population, the resulting likelihood of a higher incidence of cancer, and more sophisticated and expensive treatments all mean that now is precisely the time when the NHS should be planning for the longer term.

"If patients are going to benefit from the advances that Cancer Research UK's work contributes to, then it is essential politicians start considering their strategies for the future now.

"I would strongly encourage people to consider the messages in the King's Fund report and to sign our 'Cancer 2020' petition to add their voices to our vital campaign."

Learn more about Cancer Research UK's campaign to urge politicians to start planning now for the future of cancer services

Download the King's Fund report, "Future Trends and Challenges for Cancer Services in England" here