• Cancer alliances to start work in September this year
  • Surgery reconfiguration plans to be drawn up by June 2017
  • March 2017 deadline for blueprint for the future cancer workforce

The body responsible for improving England’s cancer care is to increase diagnostics capacity, start work on surgery reconfiguration recommendations and develop cancer alliances.

The National Cancer Transformation Board, led by national cancer director Cally Palmer, is still considering the rest of the recommendations made by the Cancer Taskforce in July 2015.

The board aims to have evidenced surgery service recommendations ready by June 2017.

In a move to address the backlogs in diagnosis and treatment for gastrointestinal cancers, a strategy document said 200 non-medical endoscopists would be trained by 2018. There is a deadline of March 2017 for developing a blueprint for “the future shape and skills mix of the workforce” in cancer overall.

Cancer alliances, which are expected to drive a lot of the work at locally, will be set up from September, the report said.

It added: “The size and shape of these alliances is still being determined in conjunction with local teams, but will follow natural patient flows in cancer services. They will be crucial in driving change for clinical quality and outcomes at appropriate population levels for cancer pathways, and will be able to provide cancer specific leadership for the new sustainability and transformation plan footprints.”

A 28 day faster diagnosis standard will also be tested in five health economies.

NHS England said the rest of the Cancer Taskforce’s recommendations were still being considered, although it has committed to achieving the taskforce’s strategy by 2020.

Other recommendations by the board were not mentioned in the taskforce’s document include:

  • mandating direct access to cancer testing for GPs;
  • “significant event analysis” following the diagnosis of cancer in emergency departments; and
  • piloting the commissioning of the entire cancer pathway in “at least one” area.