NHS Cancer Reforms – What are the facts?

Tuesday 28 July 2015
Reading Time: 2 minutes

This week has seen the announcement that radical changes are to be made to Cancer Services in the NHS, costing £2 billion and saving an estimated 30,000 lives a year by 2020. So what are the proposed changes set out by the Chief Executive of NHS England Simon Stevens and why are they necessary?

Recently it has been reported that the UK has one of the lowest cancer survival rates in Europe and according to The Telegraph online there are around 10,000 more cancer deaths a year compared with other similar countries. These major reforms will include an 80% increase in the number of cancer tests – with patients set to be provided with a definitive diagnosis within one month in order to get treatment started as quickly as possible.

As well as increased testing and early diagnosis, Simon Stevens has also promised the replacement of a range of outdated equipment to ensure that the UK has a “world class” cancer service within the next five years.

The five-year plan has been devised and developed by the Independent Cancer Taskforce which consists of expert groups including NHS England, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Royal College of GPs and several cancer charities. The final report includes the following elements:

  • 95% of patients given a definite cancer diagnosis within four weeks
  • Patients to refer themselves for vital tests as opposed to waiting for GP Referrals
  • GP’s given the power to order specialist tests such as CAT Scans
  • An 80% increase in the number of cancer tests carried out
  • Major investment in new radiotherapy equipment
  • National action plans on reducing smoking and obesity

The present targets aim to send patients for cancer tests within two weeks, but some have to wait up to eight weeks to see their results returned. Officials have stated that by 2020 the waiting time for a definitive cancer diagnosis would be halved from eight to four weeks for at least 95% of patients.

Further information provided by the report estimates that cancer services costs in the U.K will double by 2020 to £13 billion which may seem like a significant spend, however it is believed that due to these changes costs in the long-term will be reduced.

Some of the more shocking statistics to come out of this report are related to the regional variations when it comes to cancer detection and care, something that is set to be addressed by a new national cancer team. It has been suggested by experts that patients suffering from some forms of cancer are 68% more likely to survive five years after diagnosis in certain areas than those living in other areas, an example of this has been discovered in the Midlands where men with prostate cancer have been found to have the best chance of survival in Birmingham and the Black Country and the worst in the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire areas.

The changes are likely to come under much scrutiny but it is hoped that this is the beginning of a new and improved Cancer Service from the NHS.

Here at Connexica we have worked with Cancer Services to improve reporting and aid with data submissions (for more on this read our previous blog discussing the latest Cancer Outcomes and Services Dataset) about  using our analytic solution CXAIR.

For any more information on how our technology can be used to enhance Cancer Services please contact bev.lewis@connexica.com.



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