Jagtar Dhanda, director of policy advocacy and government affairs at Bristol Myers Squibb UK & Ireland, explains how a workforce planning tool can help prepare the NHS to offer the latest cancer innovations to patients

This article has been developed and funded by Bristol Myers Squibb.

The importance of equitable access to innovation in treatment and care

The oncology community and the pharmaceutical industry recently gathered at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology to present the latest innovations in cancer treatment. From gene therapies to immunotherapies to cell therapies, exciting innovations are being presented at medical congresses every year. Now, as we celebrate the 75th birthday of the NHS, a leader in adopting innovative medicines,1 we must consider how quickly the UK health system can benefit from innovation from across the globe. 

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Recent research we conducted at Bristol Myers Squibb showed that improving patients’ access to novel treatments could result in an additional 5,600 patients treated per year, and 4,500 years of extra survival across England.2 But therein lies the challenge. When time and resources are poor, how can the NHS workforce be best equipped to facilitate access to innovation in treatment and care?

At Bristol Myers Squibb, we are inspired by a single vision — transforming people’s lives through science. This vision can only be achieved if the NHS is equipped with the tools to provide innovation, and we have a role to play to help improve system preparedness for the equitable use of treatments at a national level.

Jagtar Dhanda

Jagtar Dhanda

Our commitment to addressing cancer’s big issues

Bristol Myers Squibb has a long-standing commitment to addressing the UK’s most significant cancer challenges. In recent years, we have been proud to partner with patient groups, NHS stakeholders and healthcare providers to increase capacity, take cancer services away from the hospital setting where possible, and facilitate innovation launches, all to support NHS service delivery. These partnerships include:

  • Providing funding for the charity Hope For Tomorrow to launch two mobile cancer units which travel to the heart of communities offering daily clinics, cancer screening and education programmes
  • Piloting a new centre, in partnership with LloydsPharmacy Clinical Homecare, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust and MSD, to provide patients with the flexibility and convenience to receive injection and infusion services in the community
  • Launching the BMS Service Donation Programme to support NHS Trusts to develop their immuno-oncology service development plans
  • Partnering with Macmillan Cancer Support to improve the ability of the NHS to offer pre-habilitation pre-medical treatment and also develop an oncology workforce planning tool

Forecasting for innovation: a workforce planning tool

We know that innovation within the health system can impact the workforce skill mix and capacity requirements. Together with Macmillan, we have developed a free-to-use oncology workforce planning tool to evolve oncology workforce skill mix and capacity requirements in the UK. Our partnership aims to provide a tangible solution to inequalities in hospital resources and capacity, and improve access to innovations in cancer care.

By providing a horizon view of new treatments being developed and introduced into the health system, local system providers may identify and appropriately resource the roles and skills required for future innovations.

We aim to reveal results from pilots at NHS trusts in London and Sussex later this year. If successful, implementation of the tool across the NHS will provide a recognised and consistent approach to oncology workforce planning nationally, helping to reduce variability in hospital resources and services and subsequently, inequalities in access to cancer treatments.


Date of prep: July 2023


1 NHS England. About NHS 75. Available here. Accessed July 2023.

Bristol Myers Squibb. Data on file.