Our policy on Cancer Plans
The World Health Organisation states that each nation should have a cancer plan to set policy direction and allocate resources for cancer services.
Each UK nation and region has a cancer strategy or plan aimed at improving cancer services. The plans are all unique, published at different times and are now at different stages of implementation.
The Coalition Government published Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer in January 2011.
The current Scottish Strategy, Better Cancer Care, An Action Plan, was published in October 2008 and is being implemented.
In Wales, Designed to Tackle Cancer was published in 2008 and is due to run until 2011.
The Northern Irish Cancer Control Programme was published in 2007.
A more detailed Framework is in development and is due to be published in 2011.
Improving cancer outcomes: analysis of the implementation of the UK’s cancer strategies 2006-2010 - A report by Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK has critically appraised the implementation of the UK’s cancer strategies, to identify gaps in the individual plans and differences between the nations – in terms of development and delivery – which might have an impact on future patient outcomes.
In each nation, the current cancer plan is a follow-up to previous plans or dedicated initiatives aimed at improving the way cancer services are formulated and delivered. Though the current plans are intended to be the strategic driver in cancer services, they do not operate in isolation, and there are a range of different plans, standards and guidance that complement the cancer strategies.
The plans have achieved success in some areas. There is momentum among those working in cancer services and there is recognition that cancer services have improved significantly in recent years. The increase in resources has been welcomed. Standardisation in the delivery of treatment has taken place and there is increasing specialism in patient care. To continue to improve cancer outcomes, and to make our outcomes among the best in the world in the coming years, comprehensive cancer plans that set national direction need to be maintained and resources dedicated to help beat cancer.
The key findings of the report are:
- Some progress on cancer prevention has been made across the UK, most notably with the introduction of tobacco control measures, but it is also a challenging area, with corporate, political and social barriers to overcome. Other lifestyle factors that influence the risk of developing cancer, such as obesity, are perceived to be more difficult to influence.
- The UK has world-class screening programmes and there have been significant improvements to the screening programmes in recent years but concerns remain about national differences between the programmes in terms of the age at which some programmes are offered.
- Familiarity with the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI) in England is reasonably widespread. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need to prioritise the early diagnosis of cancer.
- Improving cancer treatment has been a focus for a number of years and is seen as a strong component in the patient pathway. Chemotherapy has developed rapidly, offering new hope to many more patients, but the rise in chemotherapy use has put a degree of stress on the services delivering it. Radiotherapy capacity is concerning and there are shortages of trained staff. Surgery has become increasingly specialised but new cancer surgeons are not receiving the same training time as their predecessors.
- Living with and beyond cancer has sometimes been seen as a neglected area but it is now receiving more attention.
For further information please read the full report and executive summary below:
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team