PUBLISHED ON: 31 July 2018

What are Cancer Alliances?

In 2015, NHS England published their new national Cancer Strategy that recommended the creation of Cancer Alliances in England. There are 19 Cancer Alliances in total, established to deliver the recommendations of the Cancer Strategy locally. 

Cancer Alliances were designed to drive local change in the quality of cancer services to improve cancer outcomes and patient experience. By bringing together clinical leaders and teams in each of these broad Alliances, they aim to transform treatment and diagnosis in the area in which they are based. They also pilot new schemes aimed to revolutionise cancer care.

Cancer Alliances and patient experience

One of the key priorities of Cancer Alliances is to improve the experience of their patients – from diagnosis to living with and beyond cancer.  

As Karen Gannon, a Breast Cancer Now Patient Advocate, states, "Why should patient experience be any less than clinical outcomes?"

Moreover, we know that good patient experience can be linked to better clinical outcomes , such as better adherence to medication and a reduced use of healthcare services. 

How can being involved in Cancer Alliances make an impact?

Cancer Alliances should involve patients at all levels to ensure their voice is always heard in decision making processes. As one Cancer Alliance Lead states, the ‘more you invest in patients – the more they are empowered and the more it improves patient experience’.

It is vital that patients are able to share their experiences of breast cancer care, and highlight where it needs to be improved. By sharing these experiences, and what needs to change, patients can feel their voice heard. Even pointing out the small changes that need to be made can have a significant impact on an individual’s experience, making their lives more comfortable.

Our Service Pledge has been working to do this since 2003 in over 95 breast cancer services across the country. Over the past year, we have worked with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance to help drive patient-led improvements in breast cancer services across the Alliance.

Two easy ways you can get involved with your Cancer Alliance

  1. Look up your local Cancer Alliance and contact them to see if there are any opportunities to be involved.
  2. Contact your MP and ask them to meet with your Cancer Alliance Lead to find out what is being done in your area.


Lauren Brown is a Policy Intern at Breast Cancer Now. Since starting her internship, Lauren has worked within the Policy and Health Advocacy teams, with a focus on researching Cancer Alliances.