UK Government

Department of Health: All cancer survivors to have a personalised assessment and care plan

Press Release   •   Jan 19, 2010 11:24 GMT

All cancer survivors will get the personalised care they need to lead as healthy and active a life as possible under plans published today in the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative vision.

The joint vision between the Department of Health and Macmillan Cancer Support commits to taking steps by 2012 to ensure that cancer survivors receive the support and services to meet their needs.

The vision sets out that all cancer survivors should have:

  • A personalised assessment and care plan;
  • Support to self-manage their condition;
  • Information on the long-term effects of living with and beyond cancer; and
  • Access to specialist medical care for complications that occur after cancer.

Health Minister Ann Keen said:

“The massive investment and improvements that we have made over the last 10 years mean that an increasing number of people are living beyond cancer.

“This is great news, but the impact of cancer does not end after treatment.  This growing group of cancer survivors, their carers and families need support and services to meet their needs.

“That is why we have joined forces with Macmillan Cancer Support and are making a firm commitment that by 2012 all cancer survivors will receive the support and services they need.”

National Cancer Director Mike Richards said:

“For many of the 1.6 million people living with and beyond cancer in England, we need to improve follow-up care to meet their medical, psychological, social, spiritual, financial and information needs.

“We need to create services that are tailored to meet the needs of the individual, rather than the “one size fits all” model which has been the traditional pattern of follow-up cancer care.

“To do this we are providing £1.6 million to Macmillan for this vital work and we have created 38 pilot sites around the country which are currently testing improvements to care.”

Macmillan Chief Executive Ciaran Devane said:

“Cancer is changing and the NHS must change to meet this new challenge. In the past patients felt abandoned when their treatment ended, but the NHS should now support them through all their health and care related needs.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that providing assessment and a personalised care plans will benefit people after their cancer treatment. It will also save the NHS money.

“Our partnership with the Department of Health, to produce this ambitious vision, has been a strong and productive one. We look forward to working with them on the larger challenge – to get our new vision adopted and implemented across the whole country.”

Evidence in the vision document around the current experience of care by adult cancer survivors includes a survey by the Picker Institute.

The survey found that 43% of respondents would have liked more information and advice, 75% did not have, or did not know if they had, a care plan. However it also found that 96% felt they had been treated with dignity by health professionals.

The vision document includes examples of innovative practice and piloting work already underway in 38 test communities around the country to improve the quality of care.

The pilot studies are looking at a range of improvements to care for survivors such as telephone based support services staffed by trained cancer nurses and a three month wellness and exercise programme for cancer survivors.

At the end of 2010 we will publish a set of principles for service commissioners based on these tested models of care so that they can be adopted across the NHS.

Notes to editors

  • For media enquiries or for case study details please contact the DH newsdesk on 020 7210 5221.
  • The National Cancer Survivorship Initiative vision document can be found online at
  • The vision only applies to patient in England.
  • Case Studies:
  • Luton

    This community is looking at improving care for people in the first six weeks following radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer. This will help identify the best time for patients to benefit from a personalised assessment and care plan. The project involves telephone contact and assessments of needs during home visits. It aims to improve referral to appropriate supportive care services and ensure collaborative working between primary and secondary care to support patients after cancer treatment.


    This test community is piloting a post treatment 3 month wellness and exercise programme for cancer survivors. They are focussing on people who have had breast or colorectal cancer or melanoma. The aim is to improve health and well-being following cancer treatment and reduce the impact of consequences of cancer and treatment - e.g. by improving shoulder function for breast cancer patients. They are aiming to have 200 people go through the programme by March 2010. The project involves collaborative working between Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Bournemouth and Poole and Littledown Leisure Centre with support from Macmillan Cancer Support and Dorset Cancer Network. Interim results of evaluation show the benefits of the programme for cancer survivors.

    Good Hope Hospital, Birmingham (featured in the vision document)

    This community pilot is testing a new follow up arrangement for breast cancer patients. They are providing:

    (i) a telephone based support service by trained cancer nurses,
    (ii) a service which provides practical home based support,
    (iii) a home based care management service for complex needs
    (iv) a tailored self management programme for patients.

    Services will be accessed by patients following individual assessment and tailored survivorship care plan. The self management programme is based on a course developed at Coventry University called HOPE (Helping Overcome Problems Effectively) and is integrated as part of the aftercare pathway.


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