Simon Stevens Sets out Ambitious Action to Improve Survival and Quality of Life for People with Cancer

Five hospital trusts from the South Region will benefit from a share of £130m investment in NHS radiotherapy machines in an announcement being made today by NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens. The hospitals are:

  • 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

The five hospitals are among 15 across the UK to receive a first wave of investment which will kickstart the upgrade of radiotherapy equipment and transform cancer treatment across England. This follows an announcement in November that Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust were also designated as eligible to receive linear accelerators (LINACs) over the coming year.

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

Mr Stevens will say 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.

NHS England South Region Medical Director, Nigel Acheson said: “This investment is a vital boost for patients and our hard working cancer teams. The replacement of ageing equipment with machines which can more precisely target radiation doses will improve the experience of those undergoing treatment reducing the number of side effects and improving outcomes,”

Alongside the investment in radiotherapy machines, a £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.

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.

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