How you helped the Policy, Information & Communications directorate support CRUK’s wider strategy

At the end of last year, the Policy, Information & Communications directorate at Cancer Research UK (CRUK) launched its new strategy which sets out a 5-year direction. Our goal is to help us maximise the impact we can have for people affected by cancer. This was informed by some broader work around the development of our new organisational strategy, in which people affected by cancer were also involved.  

In Summer 2021, the Strategy Team sought the opinions of patients and carers to feed into this key piece of work. After consulting senior stakeholders and experts, the team were keen to involve the Cancer Insights Panel to hear their thoughts on the draft framework. 

Key questions asked of patients and carers were whether: 

  • The role Policy, Information & Communications directorate in supporting CRUK’s wider purpose resonated with them 
  • the objectives and “direction of travel” felt right 
  • it felt like something was missing from our principles. 

This consultation helped them get feedback on the framework and gain a deeper understanding of the issues that currently matter the most to patients. One of the main concerns raised was around the speed of research and speed at which research discoveries are transformed into actual patient benefits. To them, this lag reinforced the need for CRUK to continue playing a significant role in working with and influencing government to turn research into real-life patient outcomes faster.  

“COVID has also showed we can speed up the research process: it’s an important learning to take from that.” (Panel member) 

The panel pointed out improving existing treatments and quality of life for people living with cancer is important. Working towards this along with the current long-term goal on finding a means of “beating cancer" is crucial.

Finally, the Panel highlighted that necessity of education, not only for the general public and our other audiences (like healthcare professionals), but acknowledging that this needs to drive better cancer awareness and a sense of empowerment for people affected by cancer:  

“I wish there was much more education for the public but also, as a patient, for myself. I wish there was a course patients could take to understand basic things as it could empower me and others. Unless your consultant spends time to explains things and giving you a basic understanding, you don’t have it.” (Panel member) 

Reflecting on her experience of involving people affected by cancer in this piece of work, Lucy Long (Senior Strategy Manager) said:  

“Consulting people affected by cancer is critical, because these are the people whose lives are shaped most significantly by the work that we do. They understand the implications of what we do more than anyone because of their lived experience. It is particularly important within Policy, Information & Communications, given our focus on the more practical side of the pathway from research discoveries to interventions – so much so that patient centricity is a key principle in our strategy. It can be hard to talk about our role as we do so many different things, some of which are very complex and require us to work in partnership with others. The Cancer Insights Panel members gave us some useful feedback on how to position what we do, so that we could get across the role we want to play with greater clarity.”