Looking forward to 2016 – our influencing wish list for the next 12 months

Thinking about our Christmas wish lists is an exciting prospect, and here at Macmillan top of our list is improving the lives of people affected by cancer.

Following on from our blog about highlights in 2015 we’ve been busy writing a wish-list for 2016, focusing on what we think will could make a huge difference to people affected by cancer over the next 12 months.

  1. A fully funded Cancer Strategy

Achieving World Class Cancer Outcomes: A Strategy for England 2015 – 2020 is a very ambitious document which is helping to shape the future of cancer care in the NHS.

But to make sure it doesn’t just sit on the shelf, it needs to be fully funded.

Our recent report, Cancer Cash Crisis, shows that the NHS must spend now to avoid even greater costs later. The increasing number of people living with cancer and trying to cope with the physical and psychological effects of treatment is placing an intolerable strain on health and social care services. Unless we can support cancer survivors to live well, manage their own condition and stay out of hospital this is going to increase.

We believe that implementing the Cancer Strategy, in particular the following priority areas, will address these issues:

  • Ensuring that how well people are living, not just how long they are living after a cancer diagnosis, is measured and used to plan services
  • Patient experience should be accorded equal status with clinical outcomes
  • Ensuring every person with cancer in England has access to the cancer Recovery Package
  • The creation of new regional cancer specific organisations, known as Cancer Alliances, to develop local expertise and help integrate services

It provides a great call to action to introduce improvements for people living with cancer, but without the right funding these promises for positive change will go unfulfilled.

  1. True choice at end of life

Next on the list, we want choice at the end of life to remain a priority and the Choice Review’s recommendations to be fully implemented.

The challenge of delivering consistently good end of life care is growing, but, unfortunately, choice at the end of life is still too often unavailable. By 2035, around 550,000 people will die each year in England, compared to approximately 450,000 currently.[1]

The time to prioritise quality end of life care is now. We will continue to call on the government to implement the choice review, and realise their manifesto commitment on end of life care.

  1. Access to crucial financial support

Research we published earlier this month found that almost 170,000 people with cancer in Britain are unable to celebrate special family events such as Christmas and birthdays because of a lack of money.

We know that 83% of people living with cancer are £570 worse off per-month as a result of their diagnosis and it is an unfortunate reality that many people with cancer will feel cold and lonely this Christmas because of the financial impact of their disease. That’s why it’s essential that people affected by cancer continue to receive appropriate support through the welfare system.

We are therefore calling on the Government to urgently reverse plans in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill which would cut £125 a month from thousands of people who have been medically assessed as too ill to work, including those who have had a cancer diagnosis. You can find out more about the campaign and how to support it here.

2015 was a great year for innovative ideas about cancer care, with both the Choice Review and a new Cancer Strategy being published. But the work can’t stop here. A fully funded Cancer Strategy, quality care at the end of life and reform to welfare for people affected by cancer are our top strategic priorities, but we will also work to support people affected by cancer in many other ways, and on a range of other issues, over the next year. We look forward to continuing to be vocal for people affected by cancer into 2016 and beyond.

And finally, a very merry Christmas and a happy new year from everyone here at the Macmillan Policy team!


[1] Office for National Statistics. National Population Projections, 2012-based Statistical Bulletin. November 2013. Available at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_334975.pdf


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