A new report released by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has outlined the importance for collaboration across the UK cancer community in order to effectively restore and improve NHS cancer services.
The report highlights the need for the UK to be ambitious - more so than it currently is - in its cancer strategy, in order to compete with leading European nations.
These include improving early diagnosis, reducing variations in care through to using the latest medicines and treatments to improve patient outcomes.
The newly-released report, Cancer in 2020 and beyond: Cross-sector insights into improving outcomes for cancer patients, bases its recommendations on interviews conducted with 14 high-profile stakeholders in UK cancer care from across the NHS, academia, industry and patient-facing charities.
They call for a number of key steps to be implemented, as well as more collaborative working between the UK cancer community and the Government.
The four key areas of cancer care which the report focuses on, and sets its recommendations alongside, in order to appropriately rebuild cancer services in the post-pandemic health service recovery plan are:
- Demonstrate ambition in cancer strategy and funding:
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) should set ambitious timelines with appropriate funding to deliver care on a par with other European and G7 countries and work with the cancer community on a strategy to deliver this goal.
- Improve early diagnosis and treatment:
By delivering targeted public awareness programmes – both cancer screening and awareness of symptoms targeted at those at high risk.
By funding dedicated community diagnostics hubs to accelerate diagnosis and provide quick turnaround so that cancer patients can be at reduced risk of Covid-19.
- Reduce variation in care:
NICE and NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) to work with the cancer community – Independent Cancer Taskforce and Clinical Expert Groups, charity, industry, and academia – to implement end-to-end pathway guidelines for doctors and nurses and to develop holistic and optimised treatment and wellbeing pathways.
NHSE&I to strengthen the role of centres of excellence and ‘hub and spoke’ models of cancer care as well as working with national cancer alliances to ensure consistency of care and reduce variation across the UK.
- Speeding up of adoption and innovation:
NHSE&I to invest in IT infrastructure to improve medical research and real-world data collection.
NHSE&I to work closely with the research community to learn lessons from the pandemic on how to improve and speed up clinical trials.
Changes that lead to faster and wider access to treatments, including for rare cancers should be adopted.
Dr Paul Catchpole, Director Value and Access Policy, ABPI, said: “There seems to be overwhelming agreement from those working in cancer services that we need to look at how to improve patient pathways and bring these more in line with other countries.
"As we look to cautiously and safely restart services that were restricted due to Covid-19, there is an opportunity to now do things differently.
“It will take the combined effort of every person in the cancer community working together to deliver high-quality, consistent care to NHS patients.”