Charities welcome government’s “blueprint” but insist they will keep an eye on its implementation
A £100 million strategy to tackle cancer by improving prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment has been launched in Scotland.
Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action, will serve as the blueprint for cancer care north of the border over the next five to 10 years.
It contains more than 50 actions including investing £50m in radiotherapy equipment, recruitment and training; £9m over five years to improve support for people with cancer and their families and £5m to reduce waiting times.
The Scottish Government strategy will also make available £5m to target reducing inequalities in screening uptake; £7.5m to support improvements in surgical treatments; an additional £10m to reach diagnosis quicker, and £3.5m to drive improvements across the palliative care sector and to support targeted action on training and education.
Launched by health secretary Shona Robison at a publicity stunt on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, organised by campaigners from Cancer Research UK (CRUK), it has been broadly welcomed by cancer charities in Scotland who have said they intend to monitor its implementation closely.
Speaking at the event – where shoppers were asked to sign their name on 6ft high letters spelling out the word ‘Cancer’, as part of CRUK’s Scotland vs Cancer campaign to ensure cancer patients have quick access to cancer tests – Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK’s senior public affairs manager in Scotland, said the strategy set out strong ambitions and investment to help tackle Scotland’s cancer survival, which still lags behind its UK and European neighbours.
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
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Head of Macmillan Cancer Support in Scotland, Janice Preston, said it was important the strategy recognised 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,” she said.
“We are particularly pleased to see a £9m 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.”
Dr Aileen Keel, chair of the Scottish Cancer Task Force, said: “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, added: “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.”
At the launch, Robison described the strategy as a blueprint for the future of cancer services in Scotland and that by 2021 people with cancer in Scotland who need it will have access to a specialist nurse during treatment and after.
She added: “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.”