Tuesday 15th March 2016

Beating Cancer in Scotland: Ambition and Action

The Scottish cancer strategy launched today, 15 March, with an announcement by Health Secretary Shona Robison MSP.  The new national strategy includes a range of commitments on cancer prevention, survival, early detection and diagnosis, improving treatments, workforce, living with and beyond cancer, and research.  It sets out some specific ambitions for young people's cancer care, including committing to work in partnership with Teenage Cancer Trust's Education and Awareness programme as part of the Detect Cancer Early scheme. 

It comes only six weeks after the Scottish Managed Service Network published their Cancer Plan for Children and Young People in Scotland, 2016-2019, and the national strategy endorses the Managed Service Network's plans and commits to improving outcomes for all children and young people with cancer. 

Commenting on the publication, Siobhan Dunn, Teenage Cancer Trust CEO, said:

It's superb news that the Scottish Government has announced its commitment to continuing our partnership, rolling out our pioneering school Education & Awareness programme in Scotland. Recent research by the University of Stirling confirmed that after one of our school presentations, students' recognition of cancer warning signs and risk factors significantly increased. Students were also more likely to talk about cancer. By educating young people about cancer and the importance of healthy lifestyle choices, we’re breaking down fears and creating a generation who aren't afraid to talk about cancer.

"It's also brilliant to see the Scottish Government recognising the significant specialist needs of young people with cancer. It's fantastic that our ambition to reach more young people is so closely aligned to the Scottish Government’s ambitions for cancer patients. We will do all we can to ensure this is delivered to improve the lives of young people with cancer across Scotland."

We fed into the development of the strategy as part of our membership of the Scottish Cancer Coalition.  We made the case for recognising the unique needs of young people with Scotland, and are pleased to see this new plan linking up with the Cancer Plan for Children and Young People to deliver improvements for young people before, during and after treatment.  It’s really important that the plan is properly supported, monitored and evaluated, with annual reports on progress and impact.  The strategy is a welcome step forward for Scotland, and Teenage Cancer Trust will be working to ensure that its ambitions are now delivered. 

UK Cancer Plans

Scotland is the second UK country to publish a new cancer strategy in recent years.  In 2015 the Independent Cancer Taskforce published their cancer strategy for England, which also highlighted the role of Teenage Cancer Trust’s Education and Awareness programme.  We’re calling on NHS England and other key bodies to put in place the recommendations of that strategy at the earliest opportunity in order to drive progress for cancer patients. 

Wales' Together for Health Delivery Plan is coming to an end in 2016, while Northern Ireland's plans for cancer care are currently being reviewed. We want to see every country in the UK reflect the needs of young people with cancer in up to date strategies, and for those plans to be effectively delivered, supported and monitored. 

What do you think about the national plan for cancer care in Scotland? And what would you like to see happen across the rest of the UK for young people with cancer? Let us know on policy@teenagecancertrust.org