Monday 19th December 2016

Political developments

The political calendar this year has been incredibly busy and unpredictable with the elections for the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly, and Northern Ireland Assembly, which all took place on 5 May, and following these the Brexit vote which has dominated politics across the UK and as a result of the vote saw in the appointment of a new Prime Minister, all before the summer!

Engaging with the devolved nations is a priority for us because young people should have access to age-appropriate care wherever they are. In Wales we've met with the new Wales Cancer Network to discuss how we can work together to improve services for young people with cancer. And in Scotland we saw the launch of the Manged Service Network for Children & Young People with Cancer 2016-2019 Plan for Scotland, as well as a Government cancer strategy which included a commitment to rolling out our Education and Awareness programme across Scotland. In Northern Ireland we've been working with the Northern Ireland Cancer Network to establish our Education & Awareness programme, and Nursing & Support services there. We will continue to work with the new devolved governments, to ensure our services for young people are UK wide.

Cancer strategies across the UK

Following on from 2015's Independent Cancer Taskforce's report, Achieving World-class Cancer Outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020, NHS England published a document in May 2016 outlining their implementation plans for the strategy. We were delighted to see commitments to aiding prevention, awareness campaigns for early diagnosis, and improving patient experience for those living with and beyond cancer, as well as a recommendation to review the designation of teenage and young adult cancer treatment services. We will continue to work with NHS England to ensure these plans are acted upon.  

2016 has also seen the arrival of the Cancer Delivery Plan for Wales 2016-2020, and Scotland's strategy, Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action which we were pleased to see aligns with our focus on early diagnosis with the continuation of Scotland's Detect Cancer Early programme. England has witnessed the early development of Cancer Alliances, which are being set up to deliver the 2015 strategy across the country, and we’re ready to engage with them to ensure that the needs of young people with cancer are front and centre in their plans.

Our parliamentary launch

July saw us successfully launch our report, Transforming Cancer Knowledge, in Parliament. This report evaluates the amazing impact our education programme has on young people's knowledge of cancer, their confidence about discussing cancer with friends and families. It demonstrates the effectiveness of our programme, highlighting that young people who attended a presentation were almost twice as likely to discuss cancer afterwards and that recognition of unexplained weight loss as a potential sign of cancer rose by 36%.  

The strength of support for our education programme was great to see at the Parliamentary reception which included speeches from our ambassador Jane Sutton, a student who had benefitted from our education programme, and NHS England's National Cancer Director, Cally Palmer CBE. The event was attended by our Founders and Life Presidents Dr Adrian Whiteson OBE, Myrna Whiteson MBE and our Honorary Patron Roger Daltrey CBE, as well as several of our Trustees and decision-makers from NHS England, Public Health England and other charities. We had a long list of MPs and peers pop in too and it was a great opportunity to showcase our work in schools and discuss how we encourage prevention and early-diagnosis.

Quality care, everywhere

For every young person we reach there's another we can't. That's why we're rolling out our Nursing & Support service across the UK; this model will extend our reach into local designated hospitals to make sure every young person with cancer has access to our services. We hope to do this by 2020 and are already making strides towards our goal.

This year we have begun the phased roll out of the Nursing & Support service, with the West Midlands region already underway. Plans are now being made to roll out the service next in the South West, South Central, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We will be working closely with regional influencers such as Hospital Trust CEO's, national health bodies and Cancer Alliances, to build local support for our service model and monitor any political changes in the regions.

AYA Global Congress

2016 drew to a fantastic end with our first AYA Global Congress in partnership with Canteen Australia and Teen Cancer America in Edinburgh this December. We were absolutely thrilled to have the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, open the event for us. The First Minister made an impassioned speech reinforcing the importance of our services and pledging an extra £2.5 million in funding to improve care for children and young people with cancer in Scotland.

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