Simon Stevens sets out ambitious action to improve survival and quality of life for people with cancer

2,400 more cancer survivors over past year thanks to improved NHS cancer care.

NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens will today (Tuesday) announce the first wave of hospitals to benefit from a major national investment in NHS radiotherapy machines alongside £200m of funding over two years to improve local cancer services.

Speaking at the Britain Against Cancer conference in London today, Mr Stevens will say that survival rates are now at their highest ever.

Mr Stevens will say NHS England is ramping up efforts on early diagnosis and to help people live well with and beyond cancer.

Latest data shows that national one year survival rates for all cancers continue to rise, as do rates for breast, colorectal and lung cancer individually. The one year survival rate has increased to 70.4%, the equivalent of around an extra 2,400 cancer survivors as a result of improved NHS treatment over the past year. The inequality in cancer survival between different parts of the country has also shrunk.

It is being announced today the hospitals which will receive new LINACs are:

  • North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
  • Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
  • University Hospital  Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
  • Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
  • Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The £200m fund has been set up to encourage local areas to find new and innovative ways to diagnose cancer earlier, improve the care for those living with cancer and ensure each cancer patient gets the right care for them.

Cancer Alliances are being asked to bid for a share of the £200m fund to use to invest in three priority areas:

Early diagnosis

Early diagnosis can save lives, so extra funding will be given to local NHS doctors and managers who have the best ideas about helping people to get their diagnosis quicker and stop them bouncing between GPs and hospitals. This could mean supporting specific tools for GPs to use to help them recognise cancer, like the Macmillan decision support tool; setting up diagnosis services to be able to test and rule out a number of different things quickly; and improving local communications systems to ensure information is passed securely and quickly between hospitals and GP surgeries.

Care during and after cancer treatment – “Recovery Package”

The aim of the Recovery Package is to help ensure patients have more personal care and support from the point they are diagnosed. For a patient this means working with their clinician to develop a comprehensive plan outlining not only their physical needs, but also other support they may need, such as help at home or financial advice.

Care after cancer treatment

Once treatment is finished, it is vital that people continue to have the right care and support. This will be different for everyone and it is important to work with people to develop an appropriate plan to suit them, instead of a one size fits all approach where people are booked in for appointments at set time scales. Some areas are doing this very successfully, but for others the additional funding could be used to personalise follow up to individual needs and preferences – for some, more intensive clinical support is needed, but others may feel confident to take control and manage their own care, seeking support when needed.

Following the recently announced investment of £130m to kick-start the upgrade of radiotherapy equipment and transform cancer treatment across England, work has been under way to identify where there is greatest need and today it will be announced that 15 hospitals will receive a LINAC in the first wave of investment.

Simon Stevens will use his conference speech to say: “Across the country, the NHS is now making great strides in upgrading modern cancer radiotherapy equipment and ensuring faster access to the most promising new cancer drugs. Because the quality of NHS cancer care has improved so much over the past year, an extra two thousand families will be able to celebrate the Christmas holiday with a loved one who has successfully survived cancer. It’s an enormous tribute to dedicated nurses, doctors, scientists and patients organisations that we are on track to save 30,000 more lives a year from cancer.”

These announcements follow the recent publication of a national scheme which offers hospitals financial incentives to take action on prevention and to improve the quality of life for people with cancer.

On prevention, this includes supporting people who drink alcohol above the lower risk levels and those who smoke to reduce their risk of developing cancer in the future. For quality of life it includes systematically reviewing a patient’s response to chemotherapy treatment.


  1. Ronny Allan says:

    Great news but please don’t stereotype the effects and consequences of cancer as involving chemotherapy.

  2. Anne Baggs says:

    Can I reinforce the importance of after care and continued support for those patients with head and neck cancer, in particular. These patients have long term effects from treatment and are supported locally in the community. As cuts are being made to long term support, it is essential that importance is placed on living with the effects of cancer and its treatment in addition to diagnosis and survival. As a speech and language therapist, I see how much these patients need ongoing support.

  3. Deborah Carp says:

    I would love to see better informatics systems in the NHS in the U.K.

  4. Karen Tompkins says:

    Being a survivor of Ovarian cancer in 2012 and under the care of Plymouth Hospitals Trust in Devon, I was lucky to have been referred for an Ultrasound as well as a blood test by my GP as a lump was detected quickly on my ovary initially 12cm but grew to 25cm in 4 months. CT scans were not offered until after the Ultrasound result. Had just a CA125 blood test been used then I would not have flagged up as a problem as my blood indicators remained well below the limitie 8 – 13 max when 100 is the flag up moment. My daughters 21 year old friend waited from March to June before anyone suggested an ultrasound and now in July, she has had one ovary removed with a dinner-plate sized cyst on her ovary which luckily proved benign but Ultrasound rather than blood testing or as well as needs to be funded for women of all ages who have symptoms similar to IBS. Why have Plymouth NHS trust not qualified for the new machines when they lead the way in research and treatment?

  5. Dr G Mohan MBE says:

    Perhaps the left end of the flow chart-early reporting of the patient to the GP, on key signs and symptoms of early cancers is also key.

    Community awareness campaigns could be a way forward, which can also be monitored for usefulness.
    Local talks,leaflets , and the Press, all need to be involved.Eg- Over 50’s fora .

  6. Roy Prytherch says:

    Cancer- there is so much more now to help the patient, early diagnosis via blood tests, the LINAC machine and a general level of awareness amongst Doctors but still not amongst the ordinary person. How do you educate without frightening? use cancer patients to tell their story.

  7. Chris Reid says:

    Keep cutting the NHS budget will really help

  8. John Gooderham says:

    Hi: WAs there a bid for new linacs from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust?
    John Gooderham

  9. Gus Cairns says:

    I am a 12 year survivor from Prostate Cancer and my life has been ruined by mental Health problems from the day I was diagnosed . I had no family and my friends all disappeared with the diagnosis . So I had no support network at home . I had to drive myself 14 miles each way every day for my radiotherapy 32 days . I am still a service user of mental health services as I asked for psychological help from the hospital but got none . I have since been 3 years on a NHS England Clinical Reference Group as a Patient rep and tried to get a CPN put on all Cancer MDT’s . It is common for people to get depression about 15 sessions into Radiotherapy even worse in people living alone . I am asking for a CPN to be put on every MDT for Cancer Patients

  10. StJohn Brown says:

    Are these new machines or replacements for old ones ? Is this a net increase in machines ?