Cancer strategy: consultation analysis

Responses to our consultation on a new cancer strategy which sought views on areas to prioritise in relation to cancer prevention, management and care. Responses were analysed in order to provide a transparent evidence base to the government.

Question 17

What other comments would you like to make at this time?

Please provide any additional comments regarding the long or short-term ambitions for cancer services.

There were 143 responses to this question (77 were from individuals and 66 from organisations).

Pre-diagnosis cancer care

The main theme identified related to aspects of cancer care pre-diagnosis. Many respondents felt that public awareness of symptoms of cancer and preventative measures was lacking. Respondents gave examples such as encouraging a healthier lifestyle, promoting how to self-check correctly, and improving cancer-related education within schools as ways of improving this.

"As a current cancer survivor and hospice nurse, I believe we need to do more to educate people about the importance of screening, self checking and signs and symptoms of cancers and secondary cancers. […]" (Individual response)

The importance of timely and accurate screening programmes for earlier diagnosis was also cited by many respondents.

"[…] Earlier and more accurate detection of cancer is a crucial step in improving survival rates and could be further achieved with the adoption of the latest technologies. In some cases, improvements in screening and surgical processes, as highlighted, could unlock resources, drive workflow efficiencies, and reduce costs. […]" (Organisation response)

Issues and needs of the workforce

Another theme found within the responses regarded issues surrounding the workforce. This included the need to improve recruitment and retention of highly qualified and compassionate staff.

"The need for more fully trained staff is fundamental to cancer services now and for the success of this initiative." (Individual response)

"The most important factor to consider is workforce shortages. Without resolving or mitigating that, nothing else that can be done will improve cancer outcomes or any other health issue." (Organisation response)

Respondents expressed appreciation for the workforce, and some commented on the need for better pay. Others suggested that more needed to be done to protect the mental health and wellbeing of staff, especially as they felt this can have a direct impact on quality of care provided to patients.

Future investment priorities

The next most common theme identified were priorities that respondents identified for investment. Many respondents felt that funding should be directed towards less survivable and secondary cancers.

"Only 5% of funding goes into secondary cancer. It's secondary cancer that kills. There needs to be a higher % put into secondary cancer." (Individual response)

Other areas for investment that were cited by multiple respondents were clearing backlogs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, novel treatments and technologies, and infrastructure.

"Short-term ambitions need to focus on the funding available at local levels to deal with cancer waiting times and the psychological impact that is so prevalent following the impacts of Covid-19. […]" (Individual response)

Post-diagnosis cancer care

The fourth most common theme encompassed aspects of cancer care from diagnosis onwards. Respondents brought attention to the importance of effective prehabilitation and increased support provided prior to treatment beginning.

Respondents also felt that effective and accessible treatments and rehabilitation should be highlighted within the new cancer strategy as well as an increased focus on palliative care.

"[…] the provision of excellent treatment should be provided in an efficient and effective way even if it requires more information to be provided in languages and formats or screening to be undertaken in more remote locations." (Individual response)

"[…] Palliative care is everyone's responsibility, and each condition specific strategy should be designed to improve the experiences of people living with advanced disease, dying and bereavement." (Organisation response)

Need for patient-focused care

Lastly, the theme of patient-focused care appeared frequently within the responses. This theme includes respondents calling for more focus on patient mental health and wellbeing.

"Much has changed in the past 2 years, yet the feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression felt by many affected by cancer has only increased. Lockdowns and higher impact in cancer have thrown cancer care into turmoil and many are struggling to cope with their mental wellbeing […]" (Organisation response)

Respondents also felt that patients should be given more autonomy in decisions made about their treatment plans. Overall, a more holistic approach with the patient at the centre was suggested by respondents.

"I want my care to be holistic, to look at me as a whole person, not just a cancer. […]" (Individual response)



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