Cancer action plan: progress report 1 - June 2023 to March 2024

The first action plan to accompany our ambitious Cancer Strategy for Scotland 2023 to 2033 – Cancer Action Plan for Scotland 2023-2026 - was published in June 2023. This provides an update on our progress against these actions between June 2023 and March 2024.

1. Introduction

1.1 The first action plan to accompany our ambitious 10-year Cancer Strategy for Scotland 2023-2033 – the Cancer Action Plan for Scotland 2023-2026 - was published in June 2023. The actions within reflect the breadth of our ambitions along and beyond the cancer pathway. The first three-year action plan 2023-2026 therefore also includes actions indirectly impacting on cancer services, on which our success depends.

1.2 Cancer remains a clinical priority for the Scottish Government. Public Health Scotland (PHS) data shows cancer survival continues to improve, but not at a satisfactory rate. Data from the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership shows we are not improving as quickly as other countries. Our success in improving cancer survival means the number of people who have, or have had, cancer will continue to grow substantially in the coming decades, as mortality rates decline. There will also be an increasing number of people with cancer due to the ageing population and Scotland’s success in reducing mortality from other diseases. This will contribute to an increasing demand on the health service.

1.3 The NHS continues to be severely pressured as a result of these long-term challenges and the enormous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our priorities in the first 3-year action plan are to recover and stabilise systems and services, maintaining cancer as a priority while necessary recovery takes place in health systems and the wider economy and as we cast our minds to needed reform. Our plan is guided by broader strategies such as the NHS recovery plan (2021), Health and social care: national workforce strategy (2022), our Care and Wellbeing Portfolio and Digital health and care strategy (2023) among others.

1.4 The Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework published in August 2023 set out our intent to monitor and evaluate the Cancer Strategy for Scotland 2023-2033. The framework summarised the key steps of change that we anticipate will happen over ten years to achieve the strategic vision of improved survival and excellent, equitably accessible care. Key headline indicators were selected, or identified for data development, to monitor changes in high level outcomes connected to this vision. This first progress report documents progress against actions as well as the measurement of indicators and relevant data developments as of 30 March 2024. Progress is continuously monitored and reported on to the Scottish Government Scottish Cancer Strategic Board (SCSB) on a quarterly basis, particularly on challenges and risks to delivery. This is overseen by Dr John Harden, the Chair of the SCSB and Scottish Government’s Deputy National Clinical Director.

1.5 This is the first annual progress report of the 3-year Cancer Action plan and 10-year Cancer Strategy for Scotland. We have been working with a range of individuals and organisations across the Scottish Government, the NHS, the third sector and others to take forward the 136 actions in the plan. These are all in varied stages of progress with recognition that we are 10 months into the 3-year plan at this stage. It is also recognised that, in the overall Health and Social Care portfolio, there remains a significant budget gap and that there is a risk of affordability for future years. Some progress has been delayed due to the ongoing challenging fiscal situation. Despite this, good progress has been made on most actions.

1.6 Action progress is reported against ten of the eleven ambitions in the strategy. With the understanding that tackling health inequalities is a key driver for all actions, Ambition 8 of the strategy is addressed throughout the other ambitions and as such does not have a standalone section. As a cross-cutting ambition, we have focused our early evaluation activity on building evidence. This includes an evidence review and an evaluation being commissioned externally.



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