Psychosocial Support Task and Finish Group recommendations informed by All.Can UK’s psychological wellbeing report

In May 2021, the NHS Cancer Programme established the Psychosocial Support Task & Finish Group to gather evidence in order to understand the effect of the pandemic on access to psychosocial support for cancer patients and to provide recommendations to NHS England regarding recovery and improvement of these services.

To support this work, All.Can UK shared our report with the Task & Finish Group whilst they were gathering evidence, and met with key stakeholders in the Living With and Beyond Cancer (LWBC) team at NHS England who were leading the Group.

It was also confirmed that the LWBC team are developing a toolkit to support in taking forward the Task & Finish Group’s recommendations, and that this toolkit will be disseminated directly to Cancer Alliances. We are pleased to confirm that All.Can UK’s infographic is included within this toolkit to help improve signposting to psychosocial support services for cancer patients. The toolkit was launched on 30th March 2022, and will be shared with Cancer Alliances across the country. Ahead of the launch, All.Can UK finalised the infographic and shared it with NHS England to ensure it was included within the toolkit.  We will share a summary of the event launch and a link to the toolkit shortly.

Stakeholder engagement

Earlier this year, All.Can UK held a meeting with All.Can Australia to discuss the work both groups do and explored opportunities to share learnings.  The Australian All.Can initiative was officially launched on World Cancer Day (4 February) in 2018. Since then, their focus has been on gathering insights from the cancer community and sharpening the delivery of care which is truly of value to patients. Their current priorities centre around supporting cancer patients to navigate the care pathway. In 2021, they published a report focused on improving accessibility within the Australian health system to relieve stress experienced by patients and their carers.

Health and Social Care Committee inquiry on cancer services

The fourth and final session of the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry on cancer services took place on 20th January. The session was primarily focused on the impact of early diagnosis in ensuring better survival rates and outcomes for patients. The witnesses also discussed the impact of the pandemic on care and challenges in accessing a diagnosis with non-specific symptoms.

Witnesses expressed a lack of confidence in meeting the 2028 target of diagnosing 75% of cancers at stage one or two. This is despite the fact that during the first oral evidence session in July 2021, Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer, asserted his confidence that the target would be met.

The Health and Social Care Committee are currently developing their report on cancer services which will include a series of recommendations based on the evidence gathered during their inquiry.

Health and Social Care Committee announces Expert Panel inquiry into cancer services

On 7th January, the Health and Social Care Committee announced an Expert Panel inquiry into the Government’s progress against its targets to improve the delivery of cancer services in England.

As part of this, five cancer service experts have been appointed to the Panel:

  • Professor Samreen Ahmed, Consultant Oncologist, specialising in breast and lung cancer at Spire Leicester Hospital
  • Professor Janet E Brown, Chair, Translational Medical Oncology, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Jeanette Dickson, President, Royal College of Radiologists
  • Nikki Morris, Chair, Royal College of Nursing Oncology and Breast Care Forum

These new members join the existing Panel, which is chaired by Professor Dame Jane Dacre and includes:

  • Professor John Appleby, Chief Economist at the Nuffield Trust
  • Professor Anita Charlesworth, Director of Research at the Health Foundation
  • Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair of Healthwatch England
  • Professor Stephen Peckham, Director of the Centre for Health Services Studies at the University of Kent and Professor of Health Policy at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

The Expert Panel was set up by the Health and Social Care Committee to enhance Committee scrutiny and conduct independent evaluations of Government commitments in different areas of healthcare policy.

Each evaluation conducted by the panel will culminate in a published report with Care Quality Commission style ratings from “inadequate” to “outstanding” and a final overall rating relating to how the Government has performed against specific pledges within the policy areas assessed.

The Expert Panel published a report today (31st March) outlining its Expert Panel’s evaluation of the Government’s commitments in cancer services in England.

The Steering Group and Secretariat will continue to seek opportunities to reflect these themes and the interactions between mental health and cancer, for both NHS staff and cancer patients, within the ongoing work programme.