September is Cancer Month

A month-long awareness campaign for cancer across the capital has been launched by NHS England (London). Dr Andy Mitchell, Medical Director at NHS England (London) explains why it’s a priority.

Finding out that you have cancer is a daunting experience for those who have to encounter it and for their families and friends – emotions are wide ranging from shock, and fear to devastation.

It is a difficult journey – from recognising signs and symptoms, the first diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation to living with and beyond the disease.

Each year in London, over 47,000 are diagnosed with cancer and embark on their own personal cancer journey.

Tackling cancer for this large number of people is one of our greatest priorities and equally one of our greatest challenges. Since we published the cancer commissioning strategy for London in April 2014, London’s NHS has been working extremely hard to boost cancer services, enhance patient experience and raise survival rates and I am pleased with the progress we have made.

Nevertheless, there is a long way to go. In the UK, one in two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and it’s expected that by 2030, 400,000 people will be living with cancer in London. It’s true that more people are surviving cancer than ever before but cancer still remains the leading cause of premature death across the capital.

The key to improving survival rates is early diagnosis and we recognise the challenges when it comes to diagnosing people with cancer earlier and the work that needs to be done to address this. If someone is diagnosed, they should be diagnosed early and offered effective treatments which allow them to live for as long and as well as possible.

We are committed to making sure that no matter where a person is treated, they are provided with top quality care and services, ideally, as close to home as possible. Again, there has been good progress but more needs to be done to ensure our cancer services become the best in the world.

Nationally, work is ongoing and in the recent ‘Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: Taking the Strategy Forward document, plans have been set to take action that will help prevent more cancers, ensure people are surviving longer after an early cancer diagnosis, improve a patient’s experience of treatment and care, and have a better long-term quality of life.

Supporting these goals in London requires strong collaboration between primary, secondary and community care. We know we need to do more to integrate all levels of care which in turn will help to reduce the variation in treatment that many patients experience.

Working with Healthy London Partnership’s Transforming Cancer Services Team, RM Partners supporting the Cancer Vanguard and other key groups throughout September, we aim to shine a spotlight on the people and services that support cancer care in the capital. This includes discussing challenges, success stories and highlighting areas of work that are improving standards and delivering change for our patients in London.

We are fortunate to have some of the best cancer experts in the country and NHS staff have a lot to be proud of – we look forward to sharing some of the innovative, life changing cancer treatments that are provided across the capital.

Throughout the month, I would encourage you to follow the campaign through our digital channels – @NHSEnglandLDN and on If you want to share your own story, please get in touch with us –

Dr Andy Mitchell

Dr Mitchell qualified from Guys Hospital in 1980 and was appointed to his first consultant post as a general paediatrician in 1990.

His early years were spent in the Armed Services. As Joint Service Clinical Director he was responsible for widely distributed paediatric services, and for world wide intensive care retrieval of sick children. He remains a civilian adviser to the Defence Medical Services. In 1995 he was appointed as consultant paediatrician and clinical director in Basingstoke, and continued in clinical management roles for ten years.

He contributed to the development of an integrated service for children with expansion of specialist care into the community and consultant delivered ambulatory services, recognised by the Modernisation Agency as the ‘Total Approach’. In 1997 he established the Central South Coast Paediatric Intensive Care network and subsequently chaired through seven years of development. He has been clinical lead for the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Maternity and Children’s Network, worked with the DH on collaborative policy development, and both the MA and CSIP as a national clinical network lead offering advice to SHAs and PCTs on network development. He has undertaken many service reviews, and has been appointed as a member of the National Clinical Advisory Team. In 2006 he accepted a new challenge as Associate Medical Director at Great Ormond Street, during which time he facilitated the London children’s pathway group as part of the NHS Next Steps review. He has co-chaired the London Clinical Advisory Group, and co-directed the Healthcare for London Children’s project.

In April 2009 he was appointed Medical Director, NHS London. He has been closely involved with the reconfiguration of stroke, trauma, cardiovascular pathology and specialist paediatric services, and has recently launched a programme of change designed to introduce seven day and 24/7 services. He leads on service quality across London, and has significant experience of supporting failing organizations. He established and chairs London’s Clinical Senate. In September 2012, The National Commissioning Board appointed Dr Mitchell to be the Regional Medical Director for London. He also continues with his part time general paediatric practice.