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Forum focus: A time for reflection

Kenneth Calman, who spoke at the 2018 Scottish Oncology Summit, produced the first framework for commissioning cancer services

Kenneth Calman, who spoke at the 2018 Scottish Oncology Summit, produced the first framework for commissioning cancer services

Sir Kenneth Calman
Kenneth Calman. Picture: Alamy

Have you ever had that feeling after a conference that you have learnt loads, met old and new friends, and generally feel re-energised by the experience? 

That was the feeling I had following the 2018 Scottish Oncology Summit in Dunblane earlier this month. Held over two days, its speakers came from all over the UK and Malawi to make for an interesting, eclectic mix.

‘Much of what Sir Kenneth Calman said in the 1990s still rings true today’

Professor John Smyth, assistant principal at University of Edinburgh, gave an interesting overview of the implications of Brexit on access to new medicines in the UK. 

It is a complicated picture and, while we are leaders in this field now, we will have third party status after our exit from the EU. 

The European Medicine Agency in London has already relocated, with the loss of 900 jobs and a budget of 322 million euros. There is so much happening it is easy to miss all this.

Three levels of care

Another highlight for me was the talk by University of Glasgow chancellor and professor Kenneth Calman about how cancer care has changed since his career began. 

Familiarity with his career history will depend on your age; he was the chief medical officer for England in the 90s and, along with Welsh doctor Deirdre Hine, produced the first policy framework for commissioning cancer services. 

This framework recognised the importance of multi-professional working, specialist care in cancer and organising services to give all patients access, irrespective of where they lived. 

It was instrumental in driving forward the three levels of care model: primary care, designated cancer units and designated cancer centres. 

Much of what Sir Kenneth said rings true today as we strive to adapt to the growing number of people affected by cancer.

I had the chance to reflect on his career at the end of the day while catching up with colleagues and enjoying a glass of wine over dinner.

About the author

Susanne Cruickshank is chair of the RCN cancer and breast care forum

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