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£100 million strategy to beat cancer

Published: 15 Mar 2016 11:00

Blueprint for the future of cancer services.

A £100 million strategy to tackle cancer by improving prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and after care, has been launched by Health Secretary Shona Robison.

Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action, will serve as the blueprint for cancer care in Scotland over the next five to ten years.

The plan contains more than 50 actions, including:

  • £50 million for radiotherapy equipment and to support radiotherapy recruitment and training
  • £9 million over five years to ensure better support for people with cancer and their families, for example, through Link Workers and other initiatives like Macmillan's Improving the Cancer Journey
  • £5 million to target reducing inequalities in screening uptake
  • £7.5 million to support improvements in surgical treatments
  • An additional £10 million to support swift access to diagnostics for people with suspected cancer
  • £3.5 million to drive improvements across the palliative care sector and to support targeted action on training and education
  • £5 million to support waiting times performance

Ms Robison said:

"This strategy and our £100 million commitment, will serve as a blueprint for the future of cancer services in Scotland, improving the prevention, detection, diagnosis, treatment and aftercare of those affected by the disease.

"Cancer services have come a long way over the past ten years, with cancer mortality rates down 11 per cent, however, we know more needs to be done.

"Through this strategy we are aiming to reduce health inequalities and improve the experience of and outcomes for people with cancer across Scotland.

"A cancer diagnosis is a daunting prospect for those affected and their families, which is why it is vital that we support people throughout their journey, right from detection through to aftercare.

"This strategy sets out our actions on detecting cancer early, with a particular focus on reducing inequalities in screening. It also sets out how we will invest in the provision of good quality, sustainable treatment and support for people to live well with and beyond cancer.

"Our ambition is that through this strategy we will work with people with cancer, clinicians, service providers and third sector colleagues to reduce the impact of cancer and achieve world-class cancer outcomes for the people of Scotland."

Necessary training will also take place to ensure that by 2021 people with cancer in Scotland who need it will have access to a specialist nurse during treatment and after.

Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK's senior public affairs manager in Scotland, said:

"Scotland's cancer survival still lags behind its UK and European neighbours and this strategy sets out strong ambitions and investment to help tackle this.

"The continued focus on early diagnosis is vital – funds to make sure all patients get the diagnostic tests they need should ensure they are treated without delay.

"New money for radiotherapy, including expansion of the workforce, will address the unfulfilled potential of Scotland's world-class equipment, so that no patient misses out on effective treatment.

"But as more people get cancer, we need action to prevent the disease and brave new measures will be needed over the coming years.

"Overall, the commitments outlined in this strategy are good news for patients, and we'll closely monitor their implementation to make sure they become a reality."

Head of Macmillan Cancer Support in Scotland, Janice Preston, said:

"We welcome the publication of the cancer plan and its recognition that the quality of life cancer patients have during and after treatment is just as important as the treatment itself.

"We urgently need cancer support to be built around the needs of the individual and look forward to working with the Scottish Government to look in detail at how the ambitious measures outlined in the plan will be achieved.

"We are particularly pleased to see a £9 million fund has been set aside to fund support services modelled on Macmillan's Improving the Cancer Journey project. We hope to see the huge success of this project replicated across Scotland to make sure no cancer patient in Scotland misses out on vital support."

Breast Cancer Now's Scotland Director, Mary Allison, said:

"We welcome the Scottish Government's bold ambition on breast cancer. They are the first Government in the UK to make a clear commitment to help stop deaths from the disease by 2050.

"A huge thank you also has to go to the supporters of our 2050 Challenge campaign, who urged MSPs to act – they helped make this happen.

"We look forward to working with the Scottish Government over the coming years to make sure that this ambitious plan makes a real difference to people with breast cancer and their families."

Dr Aileen Keel, Chair of the Scottish Cancer Task Force, said:

"The number of people being diagnosed with cancer is increasing, however, with enhanced screening programmes, earlier detection, better diagnostic methods and advances in treatments more people in Scotland are surviving cancer than ever before.

"This strategy will build on the good work already underway across the country. A key element of this work is underpinned by measures to improve the quality and timeliness of data, research and support to ensure we have a workforce with the right skills to tackle cancer in Scotland.

Elspeth Atkinson, Chair of the Scottish Cancer Coalition, said:

"We welcome the publication of the cancer plan and look forward to working with the Scottish Government to implement its new measures and approaches as soon as possible."

Notes to editors

Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action is available online from 12.15pm on Tuesday, March 15:
PDF version available on request.