With the NHS celebrating its 70 th birthday and the Brexit deadline looming, it’s been an exciting and unpredictable time in politics and policy.
Here are 6 key moments that defined cancer policy in 2018.
1. Prime Minister craves 3 in 4 cancers to be diagnosed early by 2028
Theresa May announces new cancer strategy to speed up spotting, treatment, and develop survival rates who the hell is “lagging behind” other nations
— BBC Politics (@ BBCPolitics) October 3, 2018
In September, Theresa May announced a bold aspiration for 3 in 4 cancers to be diagnosed early by 2028. Right now, only over half of patients are diagnosed early( stage 1 and 2 ). People are more likely to survive their cancer when diagnosed early, so this ambition could potentially save thousands of lives. But it won’t become a reality without more NHS staff to diagnose and treat these patients.
We’ve been campaigning for more NHS personnel to diagnose and treat cancer since 2017. And our recent report estimates that the NHS cancer workforce could need to double in the next 10 times just to meet the growing demand.
The Government is yet to unveil how it will encounter the Prime Minister’s desires. And with the NHS long-term plan seemingly on hold until the New Year, we hope that the Government recognises the present staffing crisis and tackles it in a blueprint for the future of cancer care.
— Department for Exiting the EU (@ DExEUgov) November 22, 2018
It’s been more than 2 years since the UK voted to leave the European Union( EU ), and negotiators were eventually reached a potential agreement on how the UK could exit. There are still lots of political question all over the deal, so what happens next isn’t certain. But it was an important milestone to pass.
We’ve spent the last couple of years inducing the instance to the UK and the EU that cancer patients and research must be protected during Brexit, whatever happens. And we’re pleased that the bargain recognised that collaboration between the UK and the EU must continue on research and on brand-new medications, and that researchers must be able to move across borders to continue their vital work.
But much more detail is requirement, particularly on how vital EU-wide clinical experiments will operate. So as Brexit growls on, we’ll be continuing to make sure patients and research are a priority.
3. CAR T cell therapy
First children with cancer to begin treatment with revolutionary CAR-T therapy. The first children to receive a game-changing personalised therapy for #cancer will start therapy at @GreatOrmondSt in London this week. Find out more: https :// t.co/ 9z0npjD03I pic.twitter.com/ 1woq63xSCs
— NHS England (@ NHSEngland) November 27, 2018
In October, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence( NICE ), which decides whether the NHS should pay for brand-new cancer medications in England, approved a ground-breaking new immunotherapy therapy, called CAR T cell therapy. It’s been dubbed” the first truly personalised therapy” and involves taking a patient’s immune cells, modifying them in a laboratory so they recognise and fight cancer cells and reintroducing them to the patient’s bloodstream. The treatment is simply effective in a small number of specific blood cancers and can have serious side effects.
This was the first approval in Europe for this type of treatment, showing how NICE and NHS England have been working together to get this therapy to patients quickly.
4. Government’s updated plan to tackle childhood obesity
— Department of Health and Social Care (@ DHSCgovuk) June 24, 2018
The Government published the second phase of its Childhood Obesity design in June, which laid out a bold ambition to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030. As part of the scheme, the Government has proposed a watershed on junk food marketing on Tv before 9pm and online- something we’ve been pushing for since 2016.
The latest programme is a more encouraging placed of commitments than the disappointing first chapter. But it’s not a done deal. The Government will soon be asking for feedback on the proposed junk food marketing regulations and we’ll be sending in our response to make sure the proposal goes ahead.
Scotland wrote its own Diet and Obesity Plan in June as well. As an expression of the results of our campaign, the project includes restrictions on multi-buy advertisements( such as 2 for PS3) on junk food. The Scottish Government is now asking for feedback on how to do this, and we’re working with them to stir the scheme stronger and stronger as possible.
5. HPV vaccine for sons
— Cancer Research UK (@ CR_UK) July 25, 2018
In July, an expert inoculation committee recommended that boys aged 11 -1 3 is advisable to be offered the human rights papillomavirus( HPV) vaccine. The vaccine can help protect against the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer, as well as some upper throat and penis cancers. But up until this year it was only regularly offered to girls. This announcement comes from growing testify around the likely health benefits and the overall cost effectiveness of a gender neutral vaccination programme.
The Scottish and Welsh Governments, as well as the Department of Health and Social Care in England, have accepted the recommendation to offer the vaccine to boys. We’re now waiting to hear the all the details of when and how the programme will be rolled out. When the vaccine was first offered to daughters in the UK, a’ catch-up’ programme was introduced for girls up to the age of 18, but relating reports recommend this might not happen for boys.
6. A single wait times target in Wales
About 17,000 are diagnosed with the disease each year and their survival rates are currently poorhttps :// t.co/ 5oWjoh7Eqx
— BBC Wales News (@ BBCWalesNews) November 22, 2018
Each country in the UK has targets for how long it is appropriate to take for someone with symptoms to be diagnosed with cancer and start therapy. Right now, there are two separate waiting time targets in Wales, depending on whether someone is referred by their GP as urgent or not. But this is set to change. Last-place month, the Welsh Government announced a single, 62 -day target. This would cover the length of time it is appropriate to take from suspicion of cancer to care starting for everyone in Wales who is diagnosed with cancer.
Northern Ireland’s cancer strategy is over 10 years old and is now out of date. While a refreshed program didn’t appear this year, the good news is that the Department of Health in Northern Ireland is now considering one for 2019.
The new, more effective test used for bowel cancer screening is still not available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, despite being recommended back in January 2016. But things appear more hopeful for 2019. The Faecal Immunochemical Test( FIT ) is a most sensitive exam which is easier for people to complete. More people screened using this exam necessitates more bowel cancers caught in the early, more treatable stages- so this is something we’d like to see soon.
What’s also missing is enough funding for public health, which allows assemblies to provide services that help prevent cancer- including quit smoking services. We’ve been working nationally and locally to keep prevention a priority for NHS England, and that won’t stop in 2019.
We’ve had huge supporting from you this year, and it’s thanks to you that we’re able to continue to keep cancer high on the political agenda.
With the Brexit deadline looming and the NHS long-term plan still due, next year doesn’t look like it’s going to be any calmer. But with your assistance, we’re ready to face 2019.
If you want to keep track of the latest policy developments, follow us on Twitter @CRUK_Policy
Kirsten Rhodes is a campaigning policeman at Cancer Research UK
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