This week, the Melanoma Fund attended a Westminster Health Forum Keynote Seminar: Next steps for improving cancer care in England, at The Caledonia Club in South London. The event attracted a full house of delegates including oncologists, clinicians, scientists, pharmaceuticals, government bodies, universities, charities and patient groups.
Leading the way
The seminar was Chaired by Karen Lee MP, Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer and Lord Saatchi, Chairman, Centre for Policy Studies and offered a number of highly influential and diverse speakers including; Professor Chris Harrison, National Clinical Director, Cancer, NHS England, Dr Rachael Liebmann, Vice-President, Communications, Royal College of Pathologists and Deputy Medical Director, Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Emma Greenwood, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Cancer Research UK and Professor Mark Caulfield, Chief Scientist, Genomics England
The event focused around the next steps for cancer care in England; looking at funding and access, workforce targets and progress on service redesign. This follows the following recent announcements:
• The former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announcing an independent review into breast cancer screening
• The new Cancer Drugs Fund, which is expected to release at least £140 million into the NHS over the next five years
• Prime Minister’s commitment to use AI to diagnose at least 50,000 more people at an earlier stage within 15 years;
• Publication of Health Education England’s Cancer Workforce Plan, which makes plans for 200 additional clinical endoscopists and 300 reporting radiographers by 2021.
Key discussion points included:
• Collaboration – findings from the 16 regional Cancer Alliances, their impact so far on the redesign of local cancer services, and further opportunities for collaboration;
• Early diagnosis – looking at the progress of the 28-day standard pilots and Rapid Diagnostic and Assessment Centres;
• The Cancer Drugs Fund – progress, value for money and priorities for improving patient care and access to cancer medicines;
• Prevention – public awareness, screening and patient data;
• Patient engagement – including key issues for survivorship, reducing variation and the potential impact of the quality of life metric;
• Research – looking at priorities, collaboration, funding and the impact of Brexit;
• Genomics and personalised medicine – its developing role in improving diagnosis; and
• Workforce – challenges for meeting workforce targets set out in the Cancer Workforce Plan.
As a charity it is vital for us to constantly strive to generate a wider understanding of the current climate around cancer treatment and care in the UK. Understanding how trials work or don’t, the implications of screening, how Brexit will affect all of this, how the NHS is looking to improve and survive and how technology is changing the landscape.
Michelle Baker, CEO of the Melanoma Fund and Diane Cannon from Melanoma UK joined forces and approached a number of the Speakers and Chair’s from the meeting, providing some relevant insight what each respective charity does and how melanoma should be made more of a focus. Hopefully our attendance and intervention will provide some food for thought for the powers that be.