Ensuring every cancer patient has access to high quality treatment at every stage of the patient pathway is a central goal of the Cancer Reform Strategy. NCAT has been working to further improve the standards of surgery, radiotherapy and drug treatment for cancer.
Improving Outcomes Guidance
The NHS Operating Framework made clear that fully implementing the outstanding Improving Outcomes Guidance for cancer should be a high priority for 2009/10. Very good progress has been made in establishing specialist teams in almost all parts of the country. Where progress has been slower than anticipated, recovery plans are being developed.
Reconfiguration of haematological services to ensure they have a full complement of consultant and appropriately trained nursing staff has been successfully achieved. Implementation of specialist haematological pathology services has however proved particularly challenging. NCAT is therefore working closely with the Royal College of Pathologists to ensure that sustainable specialist haematopathology services are developed in every cancer network. We expect targets to be reached by December 2010.
Surgery cures more patients of cancer than any other intervention and cancer surgery will continue to improve through investment.
Investment in training is particularly key and NCAT is supporting this. For example a national training programme for laparoscopic bowel surgery has been established and we are now developing a programme for MDTs to improve low rectal cancer care.
In recent years significant reductions have been delivered in cancer waiting times. The Cancer Reform Strategy announced an extension to a number of the cancer waiting time standards, including the 2 week, 31 day and 62 day commitments. The National Cancer Action Team has been working with NHS Improvement to support strategic health authorities to ensure delivery of the extended standards.