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 2

Do you agree with a 10-year high-level strategy which will be underpinned by three shorter-term action plans? Please respond yes or no.

Figure 1. Share of Yes/No responses to Question 2
Chart depicts 86% of respondents answering Yes and 14% of respondents answering No.

There was a high level of support for this proposal among respondents. 86% of respondents agreed with the proposal, while 14% did not agree. Respondents were also asked to provide any comments on their response, and the key themes raised in responses are covered below. There were 198 responses to the open-format question (118 were from individuals and 80 from organisations).

General agreement with the proposal

The most common theme related to instances where respondents would generally agree with the proposed strategy as well as the rationale behind it without providing additional suggestions for how it should be implemented. Many respondents agreed that a longer-term strategy would mean that more ambitious goals could be set which would lead to more meaningful change. They also agreed that the 10-year high-level strategy provided a good focus and was realistic in its aims.

"We welcome a long-term commitment and feel that broader, overarching aims are conducive to the structural changes that we would like to see. We also agree that the three shorter-term action plans will ensure that these overarching aims are manifested in practical, results-driven progress for patients." (Organisation response)

Some respondents stated that they would welcome any form of strategy attempting to improve cancer experiences and outcomes in Scotland and others praised the fact that a 10-year strategy would outlive 'political cycles'.

Short-term goals and progress monitoring

Another common theme within this set of responses regarded suggestions around short-term goals and progress monitoring. Respondents felt that progress reviews at regular intervals throughout the proposed 10-year plan would help to maintain momentum and allow for flexibility where changes could be implemented, for example where new treatments and diagnostic techniques are developed.

"[…] Three-year action plans allow reflection on the outcomes achieved, how they relate to the vision and the learnings gained through the implementation of tactics. Using these insights empowers flexibility and allows the plan to evolve and successfully achieve the vision." (Organisation response)

Many respondents suggested that a Covid-19 'recovery period' should be the first short-term goal. It was also stated frequently that reporting publicly on progress would keep the public up to date and ensure accountability.

Areas of priority for the strategy

The next most frequently discussed theme was where respondents would suggest areas to prioritise within the proposed 10-year high-level strategy. Most responses within this theme were centred around the need for more effective and timelier screening and diagnosis, increased workforce capacity and investment into infrastructure.

"We agree with a 10-year high-level strategy as it is important to embed a longer-term direction and vision. Addressing workforce capacity particularly requires longer-term forecasting and planning." (Organisation response)

Other respondents called for specific types of cancer, a common example being blood, to be prioritised within the new cancer strategy as well as more consideration around preventative measures and tackling root causes such as health inequalities.

"We suggest the high-level strategy should aim to achieve equity in awareness of condition, awareness of symptoms, speed of diagnosis and access to services and treatments for Blood Cancers in comparison to more commonly recognised cancers. […]" (Organisation response)

Disagreement with the proposal

Lastly, the next theme related to respondents disagreeing with the proposed 10-year high-level strategy. The most common reason for respondents disagreeing was that the 10-year period was seen as too long. Respondents suggested that improvements in cancer care need to be implemented sooner rather than later, arguing that lives could be lost if there are unnecessary delays.

"10 years is too long for someone with cancer. A shorter period with a review on how successful it's been before designing the next part would be better." (Individual response)

"5 year plan would be more appropriate with attainable goals in each year in line with the annual delivery plans being developed." (Organisation response)

Respondents expressed concerns that long-term plans might not have the same level of flexibility as shorter-term plans. Others felt that the proposed strategy was unfocussed and lacked a sense of urgency and so would ultimately be ineffective.



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