Cally PalmerDame Cally Palmer, Director of the National Cancer Programme

I would like to take this opportunity to thank colleagues and the wider cancer community for their exceptional resilience, hard work, and expertise in managing through these extraordinary times. It is deeply appreciated by all of us in the cancer programme.

The dedication and commitment of our expert cancer workforce has meant that we have been able to maintain cancer treatment at close to pre-pandemic levels and to work quickly and efficiently to roll out new and innovative ways of working to keep patients safe. I am certain that we will continue to tackle the challenge of recovery and full restoration of services with equal energy and determination.

This report provides a summary of the final quarter of 2020/2021, when we saw admirable resilience in cancer services through the second COVID wave, and the first quarter of 2021/22, which has seen a marked increase in urgent cancer referral numbers to well above pre-pandemic levels as we accelerate our recovery.

Peter JohnsonProfessor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer

Just when we were emerging from the challenges of last year and seeing cancer diagnosis and treatment coming back towards normal, we had to manage through an even larger second peak of COVID infections. I was incredibly heartened to see how well the service held up, with much less disruption than previously. We have found opportunity in adversity, launching initiatives such as the colon capsule endoscopy pilot and a £15 million open call to innovation, which will stand us in good stead for the future. We have plenty of challenges ahead, but together we are tackling them.

David Fitzgerald, Programme Director, NHS Cancer Programme

Perhaps the most important value we have is to put cancer patients at the heart of all we do, and this has never been more important than it has been over the last six months. It’s been a really challenging time for cancer patients, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done with providers and our cancer charity partners to make sure patient experience and quality of care have remained priorities. Together, we need to continue to speak with one voice as a cancer community to reassure patients that we’re here for you and treatments are continuing safely.

View the next sections of this report:

View and download a PDF version of this report