21 July 2015
The British Institute of Radiology response to the Independent Cancer Taskforce report ‘Achieving World Class Cancer Outcomes’
The British Institute of Radiology (BIR) welcomes the report of the Independent Cancer Taskforce on achieving world class cancer outcomes for England, with the goal of saving an additional 30,000 lives between now and 2020. We commend the strategies outlined in this report to deliver new models of care set out in the vision for the future NHS “The Five Year Forward View.”
To maximise the improvements in care and long term savings realised through earlier cancer diagnosis and treatment, the BIR calls for increased funding to be front loaded to help realise change and drive forward improvement. Quicker diagnosis of cancer often leads to improved outcomes, with the ambitious aim of reducing the time from GP referral to communication of these results to the patient to four weeks. This will require increased capacity through sustained capital investment and equipment replacement programmes. An adequate workforce of appropriately trained staff, radiologists, radiographers, physicists and support workers to perform and interpret the investigations in a timely manner are required to meet this increased activity. The BIR calls for funding to support the current shortfall of imaging staff to meet this increased activity.
With radiotherapy proven to be the next best treatment to surgery, the focus on improving radiotherapy services is to be commended. The suggested equipment replacement programme will ensure that patients have access to modern, effective treatments with reduced complications and an enhanced patient experience. The BIR highlights the opportunity to optimise the advantages made in research if there is appropriate funding to deliver the service.
The BIR suggests that the overhaul of cancer commissioning across England also examines the tariff for radiotherapy services. A more sustainable funding model which recognises the increasing complexity of treatment will ensure that sustained improvements in care can be made and treatments based on the most recent evidence.
Patients are at the heart of all diagnostic and treatment decisions and the increase in co-ordinated, effective and patient focused care should rightfully be a priority. The BIR would also like to highlight the important contribution that consultant and advanced radiographers make to enhanced and efficient care, in addition to the valuable services provided by clinical nurse specialists.