NHS England has ordered an independent taskforce to develop a five-year action plan with the aim of improving cancer survival rates and services.
The taskforce includes cancer specialist doctors, clinicians, patient groups and charity leaders, who will collectively look at ways to improve cancer prevention, first contact with services, diagnosis, treatment and support for those living with and beyond cancer and end of life care.
This follows the priorities of the NHS Five Year Forward View, a vision for the future of the NHS in England announced by chief executive Simon Stevens in October last year.
The taskforce will be headed by Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, who said: “The Five Year Forward View has set out a compelling vision for the delivery of health services. We now need to turn the vision into a reality for the thousands of patients diagnosed with cancer every week.”
NHS England also announced £15m three-year programme to test promising methods of diagnosing cancer at a faster rate. The NHS will work with the charities Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support on the programme, which will make use of more than 60 sites to evaluate and treat patients with a form of modern radiotherapy.
The NHS also committed to improving the monitoring of cancer survival at a local level, including a one-year cancer survival indicator in the assurance system used to ensure clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are working effectively.
Commissioning Through Evaluation programme to innovative radiotherapy treatment and stereotactic abiative radiotherapy (SABR) will also be extended. The commitment follows a campaign led by former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio, aiming to make SABR more widely available to cancer patients in the country.
Commenting on the project, Dallaglio said: “This is a significant step forward for patient access to advance radiotherapy in our country. It will double the number of cancer patients being treated with SABR, more than double the number of cancers treated and, just as importantly, lead the way for patients to be treated within their own regions.”