Shaping ‘Longer, better, lives: A manifesto for cancer research and care’

woman and child

Cancer Research UK recently launched a report that sets out the immediate measures and long-term commitments the next incoming government can make to improve cancer outcomes in the UK.

Our Cancer Insights Panels, Involvement Network members, and those less close to Cancer Research UK were involved in different stages of developing the report.

Their involvement was incredibly valuable, and helped us to:

  • Ensure our policy asks what matters most to people affected by cancer and resonate with our audiences
  • Demonstrate the need for change by drawing on the experiences of people affected by cancer.
  • Communicate the manifesto in a way that captures attention and gains the support of the nation.

“It's been an honour to be a part of the manifesto development process. It captures the voices of people who have been impacted by cancer. It helps the cancer community to feel heard and ensure their experiences are at the heart of political and departmental priorities moving forward”. CRUK Involvement Network member

We gathered views and feedback on a range of topics to help shape our policy asks and wider narrative in the report. Some examples include:

Shaping content for our research environment chapter

Strengthening our case for more investment in research from industry and government.  We heard that it’s important to get research investment from industry as well as government and charities. This led the policy team to integrate the importance of attracting industry investment into the wider narrative of our manifesto. Complementing these insights and concerns raised by the panel about the challenging political and economic environment currently – the policy team also conducted economic analyses to strengthen the economic case for investment in research, noting the government’s list of competing priorities.

Demonstrating the need for improvements to ensure equal access to clinical trials.  We heard that the onus should be on healthcare professionals to identify and discuss relevant research opportunities, not the patients. Conversations should be open and honest regarding the risks of taking part in trials (including potential exclusion from other treatments). This led the Policy team to emphasise the need for clinicians to have more dedicated time to engage with research. Given the pressures on clinicians’ time, we also argue that it needs to be easier for clinicians to identify relevant research opportunities, including by ensuring study information on trial registries is more reliably updated by research teams.

Shaping content for our health system & early detection chapters

Demonstrating why it is important for health professionals to preserve clinical time and resources for innovation as well as providing care.  By ‘innovation’ we mean any new technologies or actions that change the way we detect, diagnose, and treat cancer. We heard that people affected by cancer want to see innovation rapidly making its way into practice. This shaped our thinking on ways in which the government and health system leadership can encourage the right kind of environment for innovation to take place.

Strengthening our position on the need for a range of performance targets and measures to assess cancer care.  We heard that the health system should give an equal focus to both performance targets like cancer waiting times and outcomes-based measures like the stage of diagnosis. We gained rich insight into just how interlinked these factors are for improving the experience and outcomes for people affected by cancer. This helped shape and strengthen our policy position to ensure the health system focuses on targets and measures that matter most to people affected by cancer.

Shaping our Prevention content

Enhancing our prevention asks and how we talk about the risk factors. We heard that we should be as bold as possible when talking about the tobacco industry and we should not refrain from being stronger with our messaging. There was strong support for tobacco as the prevention focus, but obesity was still considered an important risk factor to address.  The cost of living came up repeatedly as a factor that impacts people having a healthy lifestyle.

This led the Policy Prevention team to use clearer language to describe the impact of income and the cost of living on health inequalities – and to ensure we’re sensitive when talking about money. They were also more direct about the role of the tobacco industry, not being afraid to call out industries that are harming our policy calls. A policy call on obesity also featured within the manifesto as one of the two prevention priority actions.

Shaping how we communicate the manifesto

Defining a clear and powerful title and our top 5 pledges to gain the support of the nation. We heard that more simple, concise language was needed to ensure the title and pledges were accessible to everyone. Feedback highlighted that health inequalities and difficult-to-treat cancers were notably absent from the pledges. Following this ‘inequalities ‘and lung screening were added to the ‘drive earlier diagnoses’ pledge reflecting their emphasis in the wider report.   Feedback was used to re-write all the pledges, removing any technical language and ensuring they have a clear focus and an ask for Government.

The final 5 pledges are in the ’What Cancer Research UK are asking for’ section of our campaign web page.

Feedback also directly influenced and shaped the title of the manifesto. It showed a preference for a clear, short, snappy title with a longer explainer strapline. We heard that it was important the title is hopeful, future-orientated, and mission-focused. This feedback led us to the final title ‘Longer, better lives: A manifesto for cancer research and care’.

We’re very thankful for the time people affected by cancer have taken to have their say in the development of our manifesto document. We have now launched our Longer, better lives campaign to engage our nation to get the next incoming Government to take action.

Our manifesto sets out the measures and commitments the next government can make to avoid 20,000 cancer deaths a year by 2040.

Read about our new manifesto