Beating bowel cancer together

Next steps on NHS England’s strategy for the NHS

Tuesday 4 April 2017

On Friday 31 March NHS England published their 'Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View' report. This comes two and a half years since the original Five Year Forward View which set out NHS England’s strategy for delivering improvements within the healthcare system by 2020.

The report sets out what achievements and progress has been made so far and what will be delivered over the coming years. The report acknowledges that while cancer survival has increased, huge constraints have been placed on the system through increased referrals for cancer tests.

Key improvements for cancer include saving an extra 5,000 lives a year through new one-stop testing centres, the roll-out of the new bowel cancer screening test (the Faecal Immunochemical Test or FIT), a new standard to give patients a definitive cancer diagnosis within 28 days by 2020 and state of the art radiotherapy machines.

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said:

“While some progress has been made to improve cancer survival, much more needs to be done. We still lag behind our European counter-parts and bowel cancer survival remains too low at just under 60%. Over 41,000 people continue to be diagnosed each year and around only 15% are diagnosed at the earliest stage when it is treatable and even curable. 

Whilst we support the intentions of the Five Year Forward View, it must be acknowledged that England does not have the endoscopy capacity to deliver many of the recommendations to improve early diagnosis of bowel cancer. Training 160 non-medical endoscopists by 2018 will not be sufficient enough to cope with the expected increase in the number of referrals for these diagnostic tests. 

As such there is an urgent need for a national endoscopy strategy to address how we can best meet this increasing demand, as well as a nationwide training programme to ensure we have the workforce in place to deliver these welcome screening initiatives. This must be a priority.”

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