Friday 3rd February 2017
2017 will be a hugely pivotal year in cancer services across the UK to meet demands now and of the future. Following the last couple of years of elections and the Brexit referendum, this year is the time to really drive forward progress on the new cancer strategies across the UK and reflect on wider political changes that could impact service delivery within the NHS.
All of Teenage Cancer Trust’s units sit within the NHS so to protect and maintain our specialist age appropriate care in hospitals across the UK it is vital that we are part of any development and decisions made about it. That’s why it’s so important that we continue with our lobbying work to make sure that the needs of young people with cancer are reflected in national policy and strategy in all 4 UK countries. A key priority for us this year will focus on realising the ambitions made in these strategies and supporting the roll out of our model of care to reach every young person with cancer in the UK.
2017 has already seen the NHS hit the headlines with concerns about funding and capacity. It's incredibly important to the sustainability of our services that the NHS continues to work with us on delivering our age-appropriate model of care, but there are challenges. Cancer in young people is a rare disease, making up less than 1% of all cancers in the UK, and can be overlooked at a national level, especially in a financially squeezed NHS. Another key priority for us this year is to meet this challenge and continue to work closely in partnership with the NHS and other Arm’s Length Bodies to understand and prioritise improvements in the care and outcomes for young people with cancer.
Over the last couple of years we’ve also made huge strides in our Education and Awareness Programme, which is now recognised at a national level on prevention and early diagnosis initiatives. This work goes from strength to strength and there are continued opportunities for us to make the case to roll out education about cancer in every school. This year we will build on our national and regional strategic relationships, working in partnership to deliver and evaluate our work and reach new audiences. Part of this work includes the upcoming launch of an online e-learning module, created in partnership with the RCGP and CLIC Sargent, which will give GPs the tools to diagnose cancer in children and young people.
Finally, understanding more about young people with cancer from data collected nationally will help us to respond better to the needs and recognise where there may be gaps. We have launched a unique partnership with Public Health England to focus on the analysis of data collected by the NHS about teenagers and young adults with cancer. This is all done in a data secure environment at Public Health England using anonymised and quality assured data, and for the first time will give us up to date data about the specific age group we represent. We’re so excited about this work as it has the potential to increase our understanding and target our work where it’s most needed. This is a major focus for our year ahead and we will report on findings as soon as we can.