Taskforce calls for cancer patients to receive better support after treatment

The Independent Cancer Taskforce wants every cancer patient to have access to a recovery package by 2020 as part of a drive towards boosting survival rates and transforming patient experience

By 2020 every person with cancer should have access to a recovery package that provides better support post-treatment, according to an independent taskforce.

It is one of six strategic priorities outlined in a report published today by the Independent Cancer Taskforce, which aims to boost cancer survival rates and improve patient experience.

It says every person should have a comprehensive plan that outlines treatment as well as the support they get after their treatment ends.

The taskforce suggests a national quality of life metric should be developed by 2017 to ensure better post-treatment support is available.

An additional 30,000 patients in England every year could survive cancer for ten years or more by 2020, according to the report. Of these, around 11,000 would be through earlier diagnosis.

The five other recommendations are: a radical upgrade in prevention and public health; a national ambition to achieve earlier diagnosis; putting patient experience on a par with clinical effectiveness and safety; investment to deliver a modern, high-quality service; and overhauling the processes for commissioning, accountability and provision.

Taskforce chair Harpal Kumar said: ‘We have an opportunity to save many thousands of lives from cancer every year. We are better informed than ever about how best to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, and how to deliver better patient experience and quality of life. What is needed now is action.’

The 19-strong taskforce, which includes UK Oncology Nursing Society president Catherine Oakley and Macmillan Cancer Support (MCS) director of services and influencing Juliet Bouverie, was established by NHS England in January to develop a five-year strategy for cancer services.

It recommends that a national cancer team should oversee the delivery of the strategy.

MCS chief executive Lynda Thomas welcomed the report, adding: ‘We know that cancer is no longer just about being cured or dying from the disease. More people than ever before are living with cancer and its effects and are struggling to cope with the physical, emotional and financial consequences of the disease.

‘It is simply not fair that each year, thousands of cancer patients are shown a lack of compassion, are struggling with the debilitating effects of treatment, or are denied a "good" death. That is why we need to see urgent action from the government and NHS to implement and fully fund the recommendations in the strategy.'

Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals at the Care Quality Commission and former national cancer director at the Department of Health, said the report is an ‘important next step’ for improving cancer services.

He welcomed its emphasis on prevention, early diagnosis and improving patient support.

‘The report has implications for us, so serious consideration will be given to the way we assess the quality of cancer services on our inspections,’ he said.


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