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As it approaches its 70th birthday next year, the NHS is on track to transform cancer services in England, according to a new report published by NHS England’s National Cancer Programme.

It details investment the NHS is making in cancer transformation, including £130m. between 2016 and 2018 in new and upgraded radiotherapy equipment and £200m. over the next two years to accelerate rapid diagnosis and enhance cancer patients’ quality of life.

The transformation programme has a projected end date of 2020/21, by which time the standard of cancer care in England – from initial diagnosis through a wide range of treatment programmes and aftercare – should rival that found anywhere in the world. The new report describes progress across the field including:

  • Modernisation of radiotherapy equipment throughout the country.
  • New models of care introduced to ensure cancer is diagnosed earlier and improve survival rates.
  • Establishment of Cancer Alliances across the country to bring together clinical leaders, healthcare workers, patients and charities for better coordination of care.

Titled “Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes – Progress Report 2016-17”, the report describes significant advances made by the National Cancer Programme over the past year as it moves towards the full delivery of the NHS five-year national cancer strategy.  The strategy was developed in 2015 by an Independent Cancer Taskforce that was asked to deliver the vision set out in the NHS Five Year Forward View.

As well as the work on new models and ‘clinical pathways’, the 2017 progress report also details action on standards and metrics.  Five pilot sites are now testing a new faster diagnosis standard which will ultimately ensure patients receive either a cancer diagnosis or an “all clear” verdict within 28 days.

A new quality of life metric – the first anywhere in the world – is currently being tested in multiple sites around England.  Its purpose is to measure long-term outcomes for patients once treatment has been completed. This is aimed at improving ongoing aftercare after some patients reported feeling they had been “cast adrift” once their clinical cancer treatment had ended.

NHS National Cancer Director Cally Palmer said: “Cancer survival rates have never been higher than they are today and patients are reporting a very good experience of cancer care.

“I am confident the NHS can deliver the recommendations of the Cancer Taskforce and I am certain these recommendations will improve survival rates even further, enhance quality-of-life for cancer patients and ultimately provide the very best cancer services to patients everywhere.”

To read the report in full, click here.

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