Latest news

Fri 22 July 2016

Department of Health confirms ministerial portfolios

The Department of Health has confirmed the portfolios assigned to its new ministerial team.  Of particular note, David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, has responsibility for cancer; and Lord Prior, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, has drugs spending within his portfolio.

The portfolios are as follows:

Philip Dunne MP, Minister of State for Health, will be responsible for:

  • hospital care
  • NHS performance and operations
  • NHS workforce
  • patient safety
  • maternity care

David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, will be responsible for:

  • adult social care, carers
  • community services
  • cancer
  • dementia
  • learning disabilities
  • all elements of primary care – including dentistry and pharmacy

Nicola Blackwood MP, Minister of State for Public Health and Innovation, will be responsible for:

  • public health
  • health protection
  • technology
  • innovation
  • data

Lord Prior, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, will be responsible for:

  • drugs spending
  • life sciences
  • NHS and EU issues
  • NHS commercial issues
  • blood and transplants

It was also confirmed this week that James Morris MP is to become Principal Private Secretary (PPS) to Jeremy Hunt MP.

In a tweet confirming his acceptance of the position, Mr Morris stated he will continue to “champion mental health issues”.

Fri 15 July 2016

Prime Minister, Theresa May MP, announces new government

After succeeding Rt Hon David Cameron MP on Wednesday, the new Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, has appointed the following positions in her new government:

  • Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary
  • Phillip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer (Replaced George Osborne MP)
  • Boris Johnson MP, Foreign Secretary (Replaced Phillip Hammond MP)
  • Michael Fallon MP, Defence Secretary
  • David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Brexit
  • Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for International Trade
  • Liz Truss MP, Justice Secretary (Replaced Michael Gove MP)
  • Justine Greening MP, Education Secretary (Replaced Nicky Morgan MP) and Minister for Women and Equalities (Replaced Nicky Morgan MP)
  • Jeremy Hunt MP, Health Secretary
  • Patrick McLoughlin MP, Party Chairman (Replaced Lord Andrew Feldman) and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Replaced Oliver Letwin MP)
  • Baroness Natalie Evans, Leader of the House of Lords (Replaced Tina Stowell)
  • Damian Green MP, Work and Pensions Secretary (Replaced Stephen Crabb MP)
  • Chris Grayling MP, Transport Secretary (Replaced Patrick McLoughlin MP)
  • Andrea Leadsom MP, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary (Replaced Liz Truss MP)
  • Sajid Javid MP, Communities and Local Government Secretary (Replaced Greg Clark MP)
  • James Brokenshire MP, Northern Ireland Secretary (Replaced Theresa Villiers MP)
  • Priti Patel MP, International Development Secretary (Replaced Justine Greening MP)
  • Karen Bradley MP, Culture Secretary (Replaced John Whittingdale MP)
  • Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Action (new department)
  • Alun Cairns MP, Welsh Secretary
  • David Mundell MP, Scottish Secretary
  • Ben Gummer MP, Cabinet Minister

Following a statement from Downing Street, The Guardian originally reported that Jeremy Hunt MP was leaving his post as Secretary of State for Health, however it was later confirmed that he will in fact be staying at his post.

A number of junior ministerial appointments are expected throughout today.

Fri 8 July 2016

Local data from the 2015 Cancer Patient Experience Survey published

Hospital Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) level data from the Cancer Patient Experience Survey (CPES) has been published, following the national findings which were published on 7 June 2016. 

Nationally, the CPES reported positively on areas including involvement in decisions about care and treatment, and patient's feeling that were being treated with dignity and respect.  However, the survey also indicates areas for improvement, with many respondents indicating that they would like more support from GPs and nurses at their practice during their course of treatments.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • 78 per cent of respondents said they were involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their care and treatment
  • 90 per cent of respondents said they were given the name of a Clinical Nurse Specialist who would support them through their treatment
  • 87 per cent of respondents said that, overall, they were always treated with dignity and respect while they were in hospital
  • 94 per cent of respondents said that hospital staff told them who to contact if they were worried about their condition or treatment after they left hospital
  • 63 per cent of respondents said they thought the GPs and nurses at their general practice did everything they could to support them while they were having cancer treatment

However, against a number of measures there was a significant variation in patient experience across CCGs and Trusts.  For example, the number of patients who, during their cancer treatment, felt they were given enough care and support from health or social services, varied by 45.1 per cent between the best and worst performing CCG.

The full national, CCG and Trust reports of the 2015 Cancer Patient Survey can be accessed online here.

Fri 1 July 2016

Political developments following the EU referendum

Following the outcome of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, David Cameron MP announced that he is to resign as Prime Minister.  Mr Cameron indicated that he would continue in post for a short time, and that there should be a new Prime Minister in post by the time of the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016.

Since David Cameron’s resignation, the following politicians have confirmed they will be standing for the leadership of the Conservative Party:

  • Liam Fox MP, Former Defence Secretary
  • Stephen Crabb MP, Work and Pensions Secretary
  • Theresa May MP, Home Secretary
  • Michael Gove MP, Justice Secretary
  • Andrea Leadsom MP, Energy Minister

The Conservative Parliamentary Party will now vote in successive rounds of ballots until there are only two candidates left.  The final two candidates will then be voted on by the entire Conservative Party membership.

This week, the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) voted on a motion of no confidence in Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP, which passed by 176-40.  The vote came following concerns of Mr Corbyn’s ability to lead and his performance in the EU referendum campaign.

The result is not binding in any way but signals dissatisfaction with Mr Corbyn’s leadership at a Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) level and follows a series of resignations from the Shadow Cabinet team.  Heidi Alexander MP resigned from her position as Shadow Secretary of State for Health and has been replaced by Diane Abbott MP.

The former Shadow Business Secretary, Angela Eagle MP, is reportedly intending to challenge Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership and it has been claimed that she has the support of the 51 MPs needed to mount a challenge.

Fri 24 June 2016

EU referendum result and Prime Minister's resignation

As you will be aware, the UK has voted to leave the European Union (EU) with 52 per cent of the public having voted to leave the EU, and 48 to remain.  The turnout for the referendum was 72.2 per cent.

Following the outcome of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, David Cameron MP has announced that he is to resign as Prime Minister.  Mr Cameron indicated that he would continue in post for a short time, and that there should be a new Prime Minister in post by the time of the Conservative Party conference in October 2016.

A recent poll, from ConservativeHome, suggests that the following are contenders to replace David Cameron MP as the next leader of the Conservative Party:

  • Michael Gove (30 per cent)
  • Boris Johnson (22 per cent)
  • Theresa May (16 per cent)
  • Liam Fox (11 per cent)
  • George Osborne (8 per cent)
  • Priti Patel (6 per cent)
  • Sajid Javid (4 per cent)

It is still unclear which politicians are intending to stand for the leadership and what this impact will have on the composition of the Government.

You can find a summary briefing of the result here and the Cancer Campaigning Group (CCG) will keep member's updated in line with any future developments that may impact on health.

Fri 17 June 2016

New imaging technique for ovarian cancer

A new study in the journal Clinical Cancer Researchhas found that a new imaging technique could help identify ovarian cancer during surgery that is not visible to the “naked eye”.

The technique, which uses a fluorescent dye, could help surgeons spot and remove additional invisible tumours, or those that can’t be felt when examining the tissue.

“This new imaging technology holds promise for improving the amount of a tumour that a surgeon can see, potentially making surgery more precise," said  Dr David Phelps, a Cancer Research UK (CRUK) expert in ovarian cancer surgery. "The next step will be to test this exciting approach in larger trials to see if this can help more women survive ovarian cancer.”

The CRUK press release can be read here.  The original study can be read in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Fri 10 June 2016

2015 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey

The results of the 2015 National Cancer Patient Experience Survey (CPES) have been published this week.  Following an engagement exercise with NHS England, patient groups and other stakeholders, the format of the survey has been altered, and the report urges caution in making comparisons with the results of this survey and those of previous years.

Results will be published at a clinical commissioning group (CCG) and Trust level on Tuesday 5 July 2016.

Overall, asked to rate their care on a scale of one to ten, respondents provided an average rating of 8.7.  Key findings from the CPES data show:

  • 78 per cent of respondents said that they were definitely involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their care and treatment
  • 88 per cent of respondents said that they had had one or more diagnostic tests in the last 12 months
  • 83 per cent of respondents with more than one treatment option said that, before their cancer treatment started, the options were explained to them completely
  • 73 per cent of respondents said that the possible side effects of treatment(s) were definitely explained to them in a way they could understand
  • 66 per cent of respondents said that they were definitely offered practical advice and support in dealing with the side effects of their treatment(s)
  • 54 per cent of respondents said that, before they started their treatment(s), they were definitely also told about any side effects of the treatment that could affect them in the future rather than straight away

Details of the changes made to the survey questions can be viewed here.  The survey report can be accessed online here.

Fri 27 May 2016

NHS England announces new chemotherapy dosage bandings

NHS England has published a new system of ‘dose banding’ for the 19 most commonly used cancer drugs, moving away from a system where doses are individually calculated for each patient.

NHS England have cited reduced variation and wastage as key benefits of moving to dose banding, as well as reduced waiting times and greater flexibility in terms of where and when a patient can receive treatment.  According to NHS England, dose banding will help speed up plans currently being developed as part of the Chemotherapy Services Review to deliver chemotherapy in a range of community and health settings other than hospitals, closer to people’s homes.

Commenting on the announcement Cally Palmer CBE, NHS England’s National Cancer Director, said: “This is an important initiative which will contribute to continuing efforts across the health service to meet the ambitions set out in our Cancer Strategy to improve outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients.  By embracing this approach, providers can support patients to receive chemo at appropriate times and in places which are more convenient for them, at the same time as reducing workload for professionals.”

Chemotherapy accounts for approximately £1.4 billion of spending each year, according to NHS England.

The full National Dose Banding tables can be accessed here.  The press release from NHS England can be read here.

Fri 20 May 2016

Cancer charity Chief Executives write to the Prime Minister

This week, 15 cancer charities have written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, expressing “deep concern” about the reforms to the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) due to a lack of proposed changes to NICE’s wider appraisal process for cancer treatments.  Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Now, has said “Not a single breast cancer drug has been considered cost-effective by NICE in the last seven years”.

Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, commented saying that: “Putting NICE back in the driving seat of the new fund, while they still use outdated methods of assessing drugs, will take us right back to the dark ages for cancer drugs funding.”

The signatories of the letter, copied below in full, are as follows:

  • Mark Flannagan, Chief Executive at Beating Bowel Cancer
  • Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive at Bloodwise
  • Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now
  • Deborah Alsina, Chief Executive at Bowel Cancer UK
  • Jane Lyons, Chief Executive at Cancer52
  • Kate Lee, Chief Executive at CLIC Sargent
  • Monica Izmajlowicz, Chief Executive at Leukaemia Care
  • Louise Bayne, Chief Executive at Ovacome
  • Alex Ford, Chief Executive at Pancreatic Cancer UK
  • Angela Culhane, Chief Executive at Prostate Cancer UK
  • Dr Jesme Fox, Medical Director at Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
  • Lindsey Bennister, Chief Executive at Sarcoma UK
  • Rowena Bartlett, Chief Executive at Tackle Prostate Cancer
  • Annwen Jones, Chief Executive at Target Ovarian Cancer
  • Sarah Lindsell, Chief Executive at The Brain Tumour Charity

The Daily Telegraph's coverage of the letter can be accessed here, and the letter has also been covered on BBC News online here. The letter can be read in full here.

Fri 13 May 2016

Publication of Cancer Strategy Implementation Plan

The Cancer Transformation Board, led by Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director at NHS England, has published, Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: Taking the strategy forward, setting out how NHS England plans to implement the recommendations in Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: A strategy for England 2015-2020.  

The NHS’s Independent Cancer Taskforce estimates 30,000 lives can be saved each year by 2020 through earlier diagnosis and better treatment and care.

The full implementation plan can be read here and NHS England’s accompanying press release here.

NHS England has also published a blog from Ms Palmer, which can be read here, in which she discusses the implementation plan.  Specifically, Ms Palmer outlines that NHS England are "making an additional £15 million initial and immediate investment to explore how we can improve access to diagnostics for those suspected of having cancer, both by looking at new models of delivery and by increasing current capacity."The Daily Mail and The Times were among the news outlets who reported on the publication of the implementation plan.

It is supported by 8 companies:

  • Amgen
  • Boehringer Ingelheim
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Lilly
  • Novartis
  • Pfizer
  • Roche
  • Shire