The Secretary of State for Health has proposed new measures to rate NHS cancer services and monitor patients' quality of life after treatment, helping men with prostate cancer to demand the care they deserve.
Speaking at the Britain Against Cancer Conference in Westminster earlier this week, Jeremy Hunt announced a number of measures set to get the ball rolling on the new NHS Cancer Strategy.
If these measures are implemented, men with prostate cancer will have access to the information they need to demand the care they deserve. For example, cancer services across the country will start to be rated in a similar way to how the education body, Ofsted, rates schools, so that patients and their families can easily determine the quality of the services they can expect from their local hospital. We hope that this will help give patients confidence to challenge decisions about their diagnosis, treatment and support, and demand a higher level of care.
Knowing exactly which areas are providing particularly good or poor levels of support will also be extremely useful for us. Together with the men living in each area, we’ll have the clear-cut evidence we need to challenge commissioners at a local level to improve their services.
Mr Hunt also announced his commitment to introducing a way to measure patients’ quality of life with and after cancer treatment. This is something we worked hard to make sure was included in the new strategy because, for many men, prostate cancer is a long-term condition and may require long-term support for the side effects of treatment.
This quality of life measure, due to be introduced by 2018, will begin to give a voice to men to tell commissioners what they consider important in relation to their treatment and care. We will, of course, be using this opportunity to feed in the work we, and our funding partners The Movember Foundation, have done through our Life after prostate cancer diagnosis and TrueNTH projects to understand what impacts men’s quality of life after prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment, and how best to support them through that.
We’re with Jeremy Hunt (and how often do we get to say that!) on wanting the UK to have the best cancer care in the world. But while these announcements are a step in the right direction, the proof will be in the pudding. We’ll be keeping an eye out for the detailed proposals, and exerting our influence to make sure that they accurately reflect – and actively meet - the needs of men with prostate cancer.