Government cancer strategy announced

3 February 2011
Detailed plans to transform cancer care in England and save thousands of extra lives each year were announced yesterday by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The 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 in the UK. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said his aim was to deliver survival rates "among the best in Europe". 

He commented: "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.”

The strategy is backed with more than £750 million over four years. It 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.

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."

The bulk of the additional money, some £450 million, will fund measures to ensure cancers are diagnosed earlier in their development.

GPs will be given increased access to diagnostic tests and the power to send patients directly for diagnostic tests without referral first to a consultant. 

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

The funds will also go towards newly formed body Public Health England to promote screening and raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer.

Care Services Minister, Paul Burstow said: “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.”

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 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. 

See the full report: Improving Outcomes: a Strategy for Cancer

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