NHS England Intends to Give Cancer Answer in 28 Days

NHS England has announced plans to improve cancer care and give patients a definitive diagnosis within four weeks.

The new 28-day target is part of a raft of initiatives intended to improve the way that the health service deals with this debilitating condition.

In addition, it is hoped a £15 million investment boost will allow doctors to diagnose people suspected of having cancer within 28 days of them being referred by their GP.

This final realisation of the 28-day figure is the finalisation of a plan that has been in place for some time.

The target was first proposed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in October and an NHS report suggests the move could save 30,000 lives a year by 2020.

Improvement plans include using health experts to analyse data for cancer survival rates, early diagnosis rates, treatment outcomes, patient experience and quality of life, and use it to target areas for improvement.

Considering the extent of cancer in the UK, where it is the biggest killer of men, and the second largest killer overall after coronary heart disease, it is clear that steps need to be taken in order to address this deadly condition.

The action plan also follows the NHS’ Independent Cancer Taskforce report published last year, which identified how the NHS can achieve a world-class cancer outcomes.

Cally Palmer, national cancer director for NHS England, Outlined the the ethos behind this latest strategy, and indicated the extent of the issue in Britain.

“One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer and too many people are being diagnosed when their cancer is advanced. We need to change this. Through this cancer strategy we will drive a transformation in cancer care that will touch every corner of the country and improve services for thousands of people.”

Dr Fran Woodard, executive director of policy and impact at Macmillan Cancer Support, warmly welcomed the new strategy from the government, but questioned some of the sums and financial elements of the initiative.

“We are also pleased to see commitments in the plan to ensure more people benefit from personalised care after treatment. But it is not clear how these parts of the strategy will be funded over the next five years. NHS England and the Government must set out how they propose to fund this essential part of the cancer strategy if the improvements described in the plan are to be delivered.”

There were 161,823 deaths from cancer in the UK in 2012, and 168.6 people per 100,000 of the population died from cancer during this period.

Cancers of the lung, bowel, breast and prostate account for almost half (46%) of all cancer deaths in Britain.


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