Study shows NHS Cancer Plan has positive impact on patient survival rates

In response to a new study published today in The Lancet Oncology on the effectiveness of the NHS Cancer Plan for England (2000), Catherine Foot, Senior Fellow at The King's Fund, said:

'This is good news – more cancer patients are alive today because the NHS in England has begun to get its act together. For patients that means faster access to treatment and new and better ways of diagnosing and treating the disease.

'But these are simply early snapshots – we will need more time to understand the impact of recent changes in cancer care. The study is based on one- and three-year survival rates during 2004-6. We can see the effect of the Cancer Plan in this data, but we will need to follow up survival rates for longer to see the full impact. And as useful as these figures are, they don't show us other important measures such as how effective the NHS is at preventing cancer or what the experience of being a cancer patient is like.

'The new cancer reform strategy is driving further improvements for cancer patients, especially in services that have been relatively weak such as early diagnosis and radiotherapy treatment, but there is still a great deal to be done.'

Notes to editors: 

  1. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund press and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  2. The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.
  3. The annual cost for cancer care in England 2006/7 was £4.12 billion. 
  4. When the NHS Cancer Plan was launched in 2000, the government committed an extra £570 million to meet the cost of extra staff and equipment. In fact, additional spending on cancer came to £693 million over a three-year period.