The King's Fund response to Gordon Brown's speech on cancer and social care guarantees

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Commenting on Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s speech to The King’s Fund this morning, in which he promised patients would only have to wait one week after a GP visit for results of tests for cancer and announced plans for guaranteed access to care in the home, The King’s Fund acting chief executive, Dr Anna Dixon, said:

'A promise of test results within a week is an impressive commitment that will certainly be appreciated by cancer patients at what is a very stressful time in their lives. Reducing the wait both for diagnosis and for treatment is vital to achieving improved cancer survival rates – an area where the NHS has been criticised in comparison to the outcomes achieved in other countries.

'Access to care from specialist cancer nurses currently varies around the country and is often provided by charities. If the Prime Minister is to deliver on his promise of personalised care on the NHS the real challenge will be finding, training and employing sufficient community nurses. Reshaping the workforce to deliver more care in the community and in people’s homes is a key issue for the NHS to address.

'Plans for national universal guarantees to social care at home, delivered by more integrated local health and social services are ambitious. But there is no doubt that increased investment on preventive measures that help people stay independent for longer is needed to reduce the use of expensive acute hospital beds. There are sites around the country that offer examples of how this can be done successfully. The job for central government is to create the right conditions so that best practice is reproduced nationwide.'

Notes to editors

  1. You can listen to Gordon Brown’s speech in full on The King’s Fund’s website.
  2. For further information or interviews, please contact The King’s Fund media and public relations office on 020 7307 2585, 020 7307 2632 or 020 7307 2581. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.
  3. 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.