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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 November 2006, 13:00 GMT
NHS 'to get updated cancer plan'
Radiotherapy
The strategy will be published in the new year
The government is to revamp its cancer plan in the new year amid criticisms the current strategy is out of date.

The Cancer Reform Strategy will be based around promoting patient choice, perhaps by ordering English hospitals to publish cancer survival figures.

The 2000 Cancer Plan has been praised for improving waiting lists and access. But there is now concern it does not deal with the new demands that will be put on the NHS by the doubling of the over 65s in the next 15 years.

In August, a report by the King's Fund health think-tank said new treatments, better screening and earlier diagnosis will mean that there will be more people living as cancer survivors.

The number of new cases of cancer is rising, as are patients' expectations
Mike Richards, national cancer director

Currently over 200,000 people are diagnosed each year with cancer, but that figure is increasing by 1.4% annually.

Professor Alex Markham, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "The 2000 NHS Cancer Plan has been massively successful in transforming cancer services in England, delivering impressive results in the areas it targeted."

"But this is vital if we are to prepare for the future challenges of cancer as the number of patients and the cost of treating them will certainly rise in the next decade."

The government will publish firm details in the new year with national cancer director Mike Richards in charge of drawing up proposals in consultation with doctors, nurses and charities.

Survival

It will also look to offer guidance on how hospitals should respond to developments in medical technology.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, who announced the move to the Britain Against Cancer conference, said: "Having developed the foundations of a world-class service we have to make it self-sustaining."

And Mr Richards added: "The number of new cases of cancer is rising, as are patients' expectations.

"New treatments are in development, which are likely to be expensive. We now need to deliver high quality care to everyone with cancer and to get the best possible value for money within the NHS.

"We need to maximise the opportunities for prevention and early diagnosis and to shift care from inpatients to outpatients and from hospital to community."




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