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What needed to change
At Breast Cancer Now, we were concerned that progress in breast cancer was stalling. Screening attendance was at a record low, waiting times varied widely and access to the best breast cancer care and treatment was dependent on where you lived.
In June 2018, the Prime Minster, Theresa May announced that the NHS would receive up to £20.5 billion a year in extra funding for the next five years as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. This was our opportunity to ensure breast cancer services got the funding they desperately needed.
Working with people affected by breast cancer and health care professionals, we identified 10 priorities for NHS decision makers to address to in the NHS Long Term Plan.
What you helped us do
Around 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK. We believed that each of their stories, and those of their families and friends, represented at least 55,000 reasons why more money for breast cancer services was needed.
We wanted to use these reasons to help us make the case for our priorities being included in the Long Term Plan, so we asked you to share yours with us. And Over 700 of you did! You tweeted, talked to your MPs, made speeches, visited NHS patient forums and shared your incredible stories wherever you could. Due to your support, many MPs including, Norman Lamb MP, Tom Brake MP and Sarah Champion MP, publicly tweeted their support for our campaign.
Fast-forward to 18 October 2018, during the ‘Future of Breast Cancer’ debate at Parliament, our campaign and 10 priorities were mentioned and discussed at least seven times.
In November 2018, Breast Cancer Now campaigners took a book of the reasons you’d shared to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. The team of campaigners made a powerful case for change, discussing extracts from the book. They highlighted the main ways we wanted him to support breast cancer services in the NHS Long Term Plan.
What we achieved together
With your help, we successfully secured four commitments in the NHS long-term plan. These included:
- A review of the breast screening service, to look at how to increase screening uptake and introduce new technologies.
- The use of personalised and risk stratified screening for the earlier diagnosis of cancers.
- Access to the right expertise and support for all patients, including those with secondary cancers, which included a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or other support worker.
- Potentially offering patients more personalised treatment options.
We’re immensely proud of our supporters for their commitment to our #55000Reasons campaign, thank you!
The work doesn’t stop here. We are continuing to push for changes identified in our 55,000 reasons campaign. For example:
- We have worked on NICE appraisals for 8 new drugs which have been made available since October 2018, and are participating in the review of how NICE do drug appraisals.
- In our recent Unsurvivors campaign , we’ve highlighted again the need for more Clinical Nurse Specialists to support everyone with secondary breast cancer. In the recent NHS People Plan for 2020/21, the NHS created 350 training grants for nurses to become Clinical Nurse Specialists and chemotherapy nurses.
- We are continuing to ask for greater spending on breast imaging and diagnostic workforce. This has become particularly important since the Coronavirus pandemic where the suspension of the breast screening service is expected to create a huge demand.
If you want to be part of future campaigns supporting breast cancer patients access the drugs they need to live well, sign-up to receive our updates. You’ll be the first to hear about ways to take action to make things better for people affected by breast cancer.