Radiotherapy change will deliver patient benefits

A step-change in the way that radiotherapy services are commissioned in the UK could deliver substantial long-term benefits for patients.

Melanie Kay, Head of NHS Engagement for Rutherford Health plc – which operates cancers centres in England and Wales, said the way in which radiotherapy services are commissioned, organised, and delivered needs to evolve to ensure that patients benefit from the NHS Long Term Plan’s ambitions of earlier diagnosis, improved access to services, long-term investment in equipment and workforce, and better outcomes.

Writing in the latest edition of Specialised Medicine, Ms Kay said: “Creative thinking is required to cope with the increasing demand from patients and limited capacity of the system. There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of cancer care in the UK. It simply needs the political will to bring about the necessary changes to the commissioning and delivery of radiotherapy.

“Approximately 2.9 million people in the UK are living with cancer. Given that one in two people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime, and with an ageing population, this number is set to exceed 4 million by 2030. On the face of it, cancer survival rates indicate significant progress in treating and prolonging the lives of individuals with cancer. However, a closer look demonstrates that, although our chances of survival in the UK are much improved, the UK’s 5-year survival rates for four key cancer types (breast, colorectal, pancreatic, and lung) is below average relative to comparable countries. These basic statistics show that the commissioning and delivery of radiotherapy in the UK need to change.“

The full article can be read here: