2,400 more cancer survivors over past year thanks to improved NHS cancer care

NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens announced yesterday the first wave of hospitals to benefit from a major national investment in NHS radiotherapy machines alongside £200m of funding over two years to improve local cancer services.

Speaking at the Britain Against Cancer conference in London, Mr Stevens said that survival rates are now at their highest ever.

Mr Stevens also said that NHS England is ramping up efforts on early diagnosis and to help people live well with and beyond cancer.

Latest data shows that national one year survival rates for all cancers continue to rise, as do rates for breast, colorectal and lung cancer individually. The one year survival rate has increased to 70.4%, the equivalent of around an extra 2,400 cancer survivors as a result of improved NHS treatment over the past year. The inequality in cancer survival between different parts of the country has also shrunk.

It is being announced today the hospitals which will receive new LINACs are:

  • North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
  • Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
  • University Hospital  Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
  • Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
  • Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The £200m fund has been set up to encourage local areas to find new and innovative ways to diagnose cancer earlier, improve the care for those living with cancer and ensure each cancer patient gets the right care for them.

Cancer Alliances are being asked to bid for a share of the £200m fund to use to invest in three priority areas:

Early diagnosis

  • Early diagnosis can save lives, so extra funding will be given to local NHS doctors and managers who have the best ideas about helping people to get their diagnosis quicker and stop them bouncing between GPs and hospitals. This could mean supporting specific tools for GPs to use to help them recognise cancer, like the Macmillan decision support tool; setting up diagnosis services to be able to test and rule out a number of different things quickly; and improving local communications systems to ensure information is passed securely and quickly between hospitals and GP surgeries.

Care during and after cancer treatment – “Recovery Package”

  • The aim of the Recovery Package is to help ensure patients have more personal care and support from the point they are diagnosed. For a patient this means working with their clinician to develop a comprehensive plan outlining not only their physical needs, but also other support they may need, such as help at home or financial advice.

Care after cancer treatment

  • Once treatment is finished, it is vital that people continue to have the right care and support. This will be different for everyone and it is important to work with people to develop an appropriate plan to suit them, instead of a one size fits all approach where people are booked in for appointments at set time scales. Some areas are doing this very successfully, but for others the additional funding could be used to personalise follow up to individual needs and preferences – for some, more intensive clinical support is needed, but others may feel confident to take control and manage their own care, seeking support when needed.

Following the recently announced investment of £130m to kick-start the upgrade of radiotherapy equipment and transform cancer treatment across England, work has been under way to identify where there is greatest need and today it will be announced that 15 hospitals will receive a LINAC in the first wave of investment.

Simon Stevens said: “Across the country, the NHS is now making great strides in upgrading modern cancer radiotherapy equipment and ensuring faster access to the most promising new cancer drugs. Because the quality of NHS cancer care has improved so much over the past year, an extra two thousand families will be able to celebrate the Christmas holiday with a loved one who has successfully survived cancer. It’s an enormous tribute to dedicated nurses, doctors, scientists and patients organisations that we are on track to save 30,000 more lives a year from cancer.”

These announcements follow the recent publication of a national scheme which offers hospitals financial incentives to take action on prevention and to improve the quality of life for people with cancer.

On prevention, this includes supporting people who drink alcohol above the lower risk levels and those who smoke to reduce their risk of developing cancer in the future. For quality of life it includes systematically reviewing a patient’s response to chemotherapy treatment.