The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has announced a new 10 year ‘national war on cancer’, which will aim to see cancer services in England become the best in Europe.
Priorities set out in the speech, and in the press release, include:
- Improving cancer prevention: Focusing on risk factors such as smoking and obesity. The Government restated the smoke free target by 2030 and restrictions on advertising junk food in the Health and Care Bill. Tackling the harm caused by alcohol was also referenced
- Disparities and inequalities: There was a focus and commitment to ‘levelling up cancer services’ across the country, including diagnostic waiting times, variation in early diagnosis and survival, and recovery from the pandemic through targeting health marketing to deprived and minority ethnic groups
- Focus on early diagnosis: Accelerating progress towards the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan with an intention to ‘go further than’ the 75% early diagnosis target
- Workforce: This was missing from the speech, but the press release referenced an intention to ‘boost the cancer workforce’ through new roles and up skilling the current workforce
- Intensifying research: This included the Life Sciences Vision, especially cancer therapeutics, mRNA vaccines and early detection and diagnosis tools, and including people from more diverse backgrounds in clinical trials.
The One Cancer Voice of charities, of which Action Kidney Cancer is a member, is responding to this statement through a formal 8-week consultation and a social media campaign. In general, we support the renewed focus and ambition for cancer, particularly the focus on prevention, early diagnosis and inequalities. However, we would like to see more commitment to developing the NHS workforce with new roles, training and up skilling. We are pleased to see a positive stance on the Life Science Vision, recognising the importance of driving cancer research, however we would like more detail given the disruption to clinical trials. Finally, the Government needs to be careful about the use of the ‘war on cancer’ rhetoric, which might not be welcomed by some people with cancer due to military metaphors not being particularly patient-facing.