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05.10.16

‘Very concerning’ as over 85% of CCGs failing on cancer performance

Cancer services in more than 85% of CCGs are failing to provide adequate care for patients, with only seven being rated as ‘top performing’, according to new data published by NHS England.

The controversial ratings, which provide a snapshot of how well different areas across the country are diagnosing and treating cancer and supporting patients, revealed that out of the 209 CCGs, 156 were rated as ‘needs improvement’ and 24 were rated as ‘greatest need of improvement’.

Only seven CCGs were given the highest rating of ‘top performing’ and 22 were said to be ‘performing well’. The op performing CCGs are: 

  • NHS HARROGATE AND RURAL DISTRICT CCG
  • NHS LEEDS NORTH CCG
  • NHS SOLIHULL CCG
  • NHS SOUTH DEVON AND TORBAY CCG
  • NHS STOCKPORT CCG
  • NHS VALE OF YORK CCG
  • NHS WILTSHIRE CCG

Responding to the figures, which are based on data published over the last two years, Julie Wood, CEO of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said it provides “valuable information” in identifying where improvements are needed.

“It is important that meaningful support is provided to those CCGs who need it and that there is learning from those who have done well. Our members will look to Cancer Alliances to support them,” she said.

The Clinical Commissioning Group Improvement and Assessment Framework provides an initial baseline rating for six clinical priority areas, including cancer. The overall rating for cancer is based on four indicators or metrics: early diagnosis; one year survival; 62-day waits after referral; and overall patient experience.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “NHS cancer patients’ care is now the best it’s ever been, but we've set stretching goals to save thousands more lives by 2020. Measured against this ambition it's not surprising that most local services need to make further improvements, but we're going to track progress transparently so everyone can see how we are improving care and outcomes for patients.

“On top of current funding, this year we are also investing an extra £15m in improving early diagnosis and setting up Cancer Alliances to bring together leadership across local areas to drive improvements.”

NHS England added that the majority of the assessment is relative, as CCGs have been compared to the national average for most metrics rather than an absolute standard. For example, CCGs with even one metric rated as ‘below average’ have received an overall rating ‘requires improvement’. CCGs with all metrics rated ‘similar to the average’ have also received a ‘requires improvement’ rating.

But Dr Fran Woodard, the executive director of policy and impact at Macmillan Cancer Support, said that the ratings, which have been published on the MyNHS website, highlight “just how much the NHS is struggling to meet the challenge of delivering cancer services which meet all the critical needs of people with cancer”.

“The fact that so many CCGs in England have been identified as providing inadequate care to cancer patients, or requiring improvements in this area, is very concerning,” added Dr Woodard.

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