Our policy on national cancer plans

Cancer Research UK believes that cancer plans are a valuable tool to reduce incidence and improve outcomes for patients. An effective strategy sets direction and makes best use of resource over an extended period of time.

The World Health Organisation thinks every country can benefit from having a cancer plan. We agree and believe that each country in the UK should have its own tailored, comprehensive strategy, with dedicated resource. 

Currently, each of the four nations in the UK has a cancer plan. But they are at different stages of implementation. 


The latest cancer strategy for England, Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: A strategy for England 2015-2020, was published in July 2015, setting out clear and bold ambitions for improving outcomes for patients. Our chief executive, Sir Harpal Kumar, chaired the independent taskforce that developed the strategy. He wrote about the strategy's six strategic priorities on our blog

The Government welcomed the strategy and mandated NHS England and other arm's-length bodies to deliver its recommendations. NHS England published an implementation plan in May 2016. We will be monitoring progress closely over the coming years to ensure it is on track.

Northern Ireland 

Northern Ireland's most recent plan is the Cancer Control Programme which was published in 2008. Given how quickly technology and medicine change, and subsequent reforms to the health service in Northern Ireland, this is now long out of date. We are calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to develop a new strategy - and have made a number of recommendations for what they should focus on. 


The Scottish Government published its latest cancer plan, Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action, in March 2016. We welcome its ambitions and the decision to commit £100 million over five years to support prevention, early detection and diagnosis and improve treatments. We will be monitoring implementation closely. 


The Welsh Government published its latest plan, Cancer Delivery Plan 2016-2020, in November 2016. It includes some positive actions and reflects some areas we had identified as priorities. However, there are some parts of the plan where greater ambition would be beneficial. Cancer Research UK will be working to support implementation and maximise opportunities associated with the new plan.   


Cancer Research UK response to the Cancer Taskforce call for evidence (February 2015)

Download response


Improving cancer outcomes: An analysis of the implementation of the UK’s cancer strategies (2006-2010)

Cancer Research UK has appraised the implementation of the UK’s cancer strategies, to identify gaps and differences between the nations.

Download executive summary and recommendations

Download report

Contact us

Get in touch with our policy team to find out more information about our policy on NHS cancer services.

Call our policy team for more information.

020 3469 8360 

Email the team

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