Thursday 28th January 2016

As we begin the New Year we're looking forward to the opportunities that 2016 holds. In the run up to May we'll be following the elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, while July will mark one year since the Independent Cancer Taskforce published its strategy. And throughout the year our services will support more young people than ever before. Read on to find out our hopes for cancer policy over the next 12 months...

Education, education, education

This January over 9 million school age children and young people across the UK headed back to school for the start of the new term. And in the policy world, momentum to see them receive education about cancer in schools continues to build. The Independent Cancer Taskforce's call for a cancer education programme based on our model has been followed by a joint letter from four Select Committee Chairs calling on the Government to introduce statutory PSHE education in secondary schools and for this to include health information. The Health, Education, Home Affairs, and Business, Innovation and Skills Committees joined forces to call on the Secretary of State for Education to respond to their case for statutory PSHE

We believe that education about cancer is vital for young people. It develops their knowledge of cancer signs, symptoms and risk factors, encourages healthy lifestyle choices and makes them feel more confident talking about cancer with their friends and families. It also empowers them to speak up if their own health changes, which will help to tackle the current lengthy and difficult process of securing a cancer diagnosis as a young person. With one in two people forecast to get cancer in their lifetime, and 4 in 10 cancers able to be prevented by lifestyle choices, we're determined that more young people than ever before receive cancer education in 2016.

Devolved country elections

Less than a year since David Cameron returned to Number 10 in May 2015, election fever will be hitting us once more at polls open for the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Assembly on 5 May. This year the devolved nations have the chance to make a real difference to the lives of young people with cancer.  All three countries have their own Cancer Strategies, and all are at various stages in the process of refreshing and renewing these. We'll be working with partners across the UK this year in the run up to the elections and beyond to ensure that the needs of young people with cancer before, during and after treatment are represented in these plans. Find out more about the work we do across the UK

The Cancer Strategy: One year on

In July 2015 we welcomed the publication of the Independent Cancer Taskforce's report, Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: A strategy for England 2015-2020. As the first anniversary of the report approaches, it'll be important to review progress against its recommendations. The report reflected issues that matter to young people with cancer, including:

 

  • A call for NHS England and Public Health England to consider a cancer education programme based on evidence from our model
  • Recommended new targets for clinical trial recruitment in young people, challenging current low participation rates
  • A call for young people with cancer to be asked about their experience of care

So far the Secretary of State for Health has indicated that the government will support increased access to diagnostics and the adoption of a 28 day limit from referral to diagnosis or test results.  These commitments are welcome, however it’s really important that as we go into 2016 more details are released on how other parts of the strategy will be delivered. We're calling on NHS England and other important bodies to publish their implementation plans for the strategy, and for these to include a specific focus on teenagers and young adults with cancer. 

Quality care, everywhere

2015 was a landmark year for our specialist services. In February we held a Parliamentary launch for plans to expand our Nursing and Support service to reach every young person with cancer, wherever they are, and this has been progressing ever since. 

Currently, for every young person with cancer that we help, there's another we can't.  Our new service sees specialist staff supporting young people wherever they're treated, whether in a Principal Treatment Centre where our units are based, or in local cancer hospitals.  Following a successful pilot in the North West of England this model is now being put into place in other regions. This approach is aligned with NHS England’s own Five Year Forward View and the Independent Cancer Taskforce's report, and so we'll be working throughout 2016 to build local support for the continued extension of our services.  

If you'd like to find out more about our policy work then send us an email

Our year in statistics

2,500 13-24 year olds will be diagnosed with cancer in 2016

Our 66 expert funded staff will support them throughout their cancer journey

Our Education and Awareness team will continue to speak in schools about cancer – last year over 80,000 students had a presentation from the team.