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Cancer strategy could save 5,000 lives a year

Detailed plans to transform cancer care in England and save thousands of extra lives each year were announced yesterday by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.


Overall these plans will drive up England’s cancer survival rates so that by 2014/15 an extra 5,000 lives will be saved every year.


Improving Outcomes – A Strategy for Cancer, sets out how the Government, NHS and public can prevent cancer, improve the quality and efficiency of cancer services and move towards achieving outcomes which rival the best in Europe.


The Strategy – backed with more than £750 million over four years – sets out a range of actions to improve cancer outcomes, including:
• diagnosing cancer earlier;
• helping people to live healthier lives to reduce preventable cancers;
• screening more people;
• introducing new screening programmes; and
• making sure that all patients have access to the best possible treatment, care and support.


[quote top=Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:] Cancer affects us all. Everyone will have a story of someone they love battling the disease. In those instances we all need to know that the NHS will be there for us. [/quote]

He continued to comment: “Our ambition is simple, to deliver survival rates among the best in Europe and this strategy outlines how we will make our first steps towards this. The Coalition Government’s reforms of health and care services will drive improvements in what matters most to patients and their families – cancer outcomes. Our commitment is to save 5,000 extra lives a year from 2014/15 and that is what we will be measuring our success against.”


Central to these plans is an investment of more than £450 million to increase earlier diagnosis. This money will fund increased GP access to diagnostic tests and more testing and treatment in secondary care. It will also go towards Public Health England - the new public health service - to promote screening and raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer.


Over the Spending Review period, this will allow for primary care access to over two million extra tests, in addition to funding increased testing and treatment in secondary care. Tests include:
• chest x ray – to aid in diagnosing lung cancer;
• non-obstetric ultrasound – to support the diagnosis of ovarian and other cancers;
• flexible sigmoidoscopy/colonoscopy – to support the diagnosis of bowel cancer; and
• MRI brain scans – to support the diagnosis of brain cancer.


In addition, the Government will provide extra investment to increase access to radiotherapy and ensure all patients are able to get this critical treatment.


[quote bottom= said Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow] We are committed to updating the NHS to make it more patient centred. This strategy shows how this will work for our cancer services. This Strategy rejects the top-down approach of the past which has stifled innovation and creativity. Instead it focuses on how patients can be empowered and on how clinicians on the frontline can be supported to deliver excellence for all. [/quote]


Improving Outcomes – A Strategy for Cancer, is the first of a number of outcomes strategies to be published following on from the White Paper, Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS.


Outcomes strategies will play a crucial role in translating the underpinning principles of the Coalition Government’s reforms of the health and care services into the steps it needs to take to drive improvements health outcomes; putting patients and the public first, empowering professionals and strengthening local accountability .


Professor Sir Mike Richards, the National Clinical Director for Cancer, said “We know the main reason our survival rates lag behind other countries is because too many people are diagnosed late. This is why our Strategy focuses on earlier diagnosis which we will achieve through raising the public’s awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and also providing better access to diagnostic tests. But improving outcomes for people with cancer isn't just about improving survival rates. It is also about improving patients' experience of care and the quality of life for cancer survivors and our Strategy also sets out how that will be tackled.”