Bold vision for radiotherapy launched


IPEM contributed to a bold 10-year vision for radiotherapy which was launched at Westminster - the day after the news about King Charles' diagnosis for cancer.

World-class radiotherapy in the UK: Right Patient, Right Treatment, Right Time has been written and supported by key members and organisations in the radiotherapy community, including IPEM.

The launch was attended by an IPEM team including Nicky Whilde, Chair of IPEM's Radiotherapy Professional Standards Panel, Dr Carl Rowbottom, Director of IPEM's Professional and Standards Council, and Chris Watt, IPEM's Head of Communications and Public Affairs.

The plan was launched at the House of Commons the day after the news about King Charles' diagnosis for a form of cancer and it is being led by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Radiotherapy.

The plan contains evidence-based research by leading cancer experts that could significantly cut waiting times for cancer patients and improve how long and how well patients live.

Recent NHS England data shows that 4 in 10 cancer patients are waiting longer than the recommended 62 days to start their first treatment. The 62-day treatment target was last achieved in 2015 in England, 2009 in Northern Ireland, 2012 in Scotland and 2010 in Wales.

Nicky Whilde said: 'We had input into this very important report, with myself, Anna Barnes [IPEM President] and Carl Rowbottom all contributing to it.

'We fully support it as critical action needs to be taken now to implement this in the interests of everyone who is currently undergoing cancer treatment and for future patients too.'

Footballer Bryan Robson OBE had surgery and radiotherapy a decade ago for throat cancer and he has urged the NHS and Government to take immediate action to deliver the plan.

Mr Robson said: ‘Radiotherapy saved my life. It’s given me the priceless gift of time and memories with my friends and family. I strongly believe every UK cancer patient that needs radiotherapy should have access to a world-class service. Decision makers choosing to invest in and support radiotherapy services across the UK will quite simply save lives.

‘I want to live in a country with cancer services that are the envy of the world – and radiotherapy can play a major part. For the sake of cancer patients, I ask all of us to use our influence to make this 10-year vision a reality.’

Cost effective treatment

Research shows that radiotherapy is a lifesaving, cost-effective treatment needed in about 50% of cancer cases and in 40% of cancer cures.  Key recommendations outlined in the report include delivery of a new National Plan for Radiotherapy, equal access to high quality, personalised radiotherapy, an immediate plan to address the 600-person workforce shortfall and long-term investment in the data, technology and innovation that could rapidly improve patient outcomes and experience.    

The report sets out how the UK currently lags behind other similar European countries.  Despite international estimates that 52 to 53% of UK cancer patients should receive radiotherapy, currently only 24 to 27% of patients in England do. Access is highly variable, with several parts of the UK classed as radiotherapy ‘deserts’, with patients making long, expensive journeys for treatment.  The UK remains near the bottom of international tables for cancer survival and experts in the report warn that without clear planning and investment in radiotherapy, this is unlikely to improve.

Professor Pat Price, Chair of Radiotherapy UK and co-founder of the Catch Up With Cancer Campaign, said: ‘It’s time to realise the immense potential of radiotherapy by harnessing proven technical advances and innovation to improve patient outcomes. Let us prioritise this cost-effective and curative treatment, where a modest investment could yield a huge leap in progress. If we do this, the world will watch, and we will all be empowered.’

Professor Mark Lawler, Professor of Digital Health at Queen’s University Belfast and Chair of the Lancet Oncology European Groundshot Commission, said: ‘This 10 Year data-informed, research empowered, patient-centred plan for World Class Radiotherapy in the UK is urgently needed - it sets out a vision to deliver quality cancer care for patients right across the UK into the next decade.

‘We do not have a choice - if we don’t implement such a forward-thinking plan, we are letting down not only current cancer patients, but also the cancer patients of the future - they will not forgive us if we fail them. So let’s act. Now!’

Vision for Radiotherapy
Radiotherapy UK