Improving patient access to radiotherapy in the NHS

Summary

Cancer Research UK’s ‘A Voice for Radiotherapy’ campaign highlighted inequalities in access to radiotherapy treatment and called for action to make the service among the best in Europe. The charity collected over 36,000 signatures in a petition and presented them to the Prime Minister. This contributed to a government commitment that all patients will receive the innovative radiotherapy they need, and alongside this launched the Radiotherapy Innovation Fund, to help increase the availability of an advanced type of radiotherapy called Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy.

Challenge

Radiotherapy contributes to four in 10 cancer cures, second only to surgery in its effectiveness at treating cancer. Over the years, however, it has lacked the necessary support to develop into a world-class service in the UK. Thousands of patients have therefore missed out on treatment. 

They are also missing out on newer, more accurate types of radiotherapy, such as Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy treatment (IMRT) which has been given to only 7% of radiotherapy patients in England in 2011/ 12. 

Only 10 radiotherapy centres were meeting the target – 24% of patients receiving IMRT – leaving 40 centres needing support in order to provide this more advanced treatment. Urgent action was needed.

Objectives

The main objective was to ensure that patients get the best, evidence-based, radiotherapy treatment for their condition. Within this were several initiatives. 

The A Voice for Radiotherapy campaign called on the government to make radiotherapy services the best in Europe, to start tackling unequal access to radiotherapy, and to ensure all services had appropriate workforces. 

Cancer Research UK was asked by the Department of Health to help distribute the Radiotherapy Innovation Fund across all 50 treatment centres in England. The objective of evaluating the Fund was to see what impact it had on patient access to IMRT. 

The team ran a number of radiotherapy roadshows in 2012/ 13 to engage the radiotherapy community in the impact of NHS reforms. 

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QiC Oncology Winner 2014
Cancer charity initiative of the year
Improving patient access to radiotherapy in the NHS
by Cancer Research UK

Contacts

Emlyn Samuel

Job title:
Place of work:
Cancer Research UK
Telephone:
020 3469 5581
Email:
emlyn.samuel@cancer.org.uk

Resources

QiC Oncology 2016 partner:
Bristol-Myers Squibb
Supported by: