Our fight for change

In this ever-changing political landscape, we’re determined to make sure that the voice of people affected by pancreatic cancer isn’t forgotten.

21 July 2022

Earlier this year, the Secretary for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid MP, committed to publishing a new 10-year cancer plan to transform cancer care in England.

Since then, we’ve been working hard alongside you all to make sure pancreatic cancer finally gets the attention it deserves through this plan. We’ve also been focusing on our work to improve outcomes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to make sure pancreatic cancer is at the front and centre of activity across the UK.

We were hoping the plan for England would be published this summer, but in early July the Secretary of State responsible for the plan and lots of Ministers in government resigned. We’re also now waiting on the selection of a new Prime Minister and a new government in September, which means the plan definitely won’t be published as soon as we were hoping for.

We will fight to make sure the plan is published as soon as possible as we can’t wait any longer for much-needed improvements in care and treatment. And we will work together with you to make sure it delivers for people with pancreatic cancer.

In the meantime, there’s been lots going on in our charity to make sure pancreatic cancer is at the front and centre of this new cancer plan and beyond, which we want to update you on:

Building our reputation

Influencing takes time. That’s why over the past few years we’ve been focusing on building our reputation with decision-makers in the NHS, government and Parliament so we’re seen as a credible and trustworthy voice championing the needs of people affected by pancreatic cancer.

We’re already seen the results of this work. Over the last couple of years, it’s helped us secure important wins like the pancreatic cancer audit and regular meetings with the national Cancer Programme Director. We’ve also been invited to give expert evidence to Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee and are now on NHS England’s National Cancer Recovery Taskforce following the pandemic. And thanks to your help we’re continuing to build our links with MPs from across the political spectrum.

All of this means pancreatic cancer is more on the agenda than ever before, and puts us in a strong position to influence the cancer plan.

Making our voices heard

When the Government announced that it was writing a new cancer plan, it asked for our views on shaping it. In response, our passionate community of supporters have been speaking up to secure the changes people with pancreatic cancer deserve.

We held a special event and wrote guidance to help over 200 supporters share their own response to the Government’s Call for Evidence, shining a light on the reality of people affected by pancreatic cancer. As a charity, we also laid out the action the government needs to take to make crucial improvements to treatment, care and survival for pancreatic cancer in our written submission to the Government’s public Call for Evidence.

We’re now on the record, and we’re going to make sure the new Government listens.

“For months, Mum was misdiagnosed, sent for multiple tests and passed from surgeon to surgeon. This should never have happened. Why wasn’t mum diagnosed earlier? And how can a very fit lady die within 3 months of diagnosis? I think the Government and the NHS need to do much more to stop this happening to other families in the future.”

Deborah, member of our campaigns community who took part in the Government’s call for evidence for its new 10 year plan

Deborah and her mum

Influencing important decisionmakers

Over the past few months, we’ve been meeting with as many senior NHS officials, civil servants at the Department for Health and Social Care and parliamentarians as possible to make sure decisionmakers understand that this new cancer plan is a game-changing opportunity for pancreatic cancer – and one that cannot be wasted.

Thanks to the work of our determined campaigns team, we’ve also been one of the only charities to meet with Maria Caulfield MP, who was the government minister responsible for cancer care and treatment at the time. We explained to her why it’s so important that pancreatic cancer is prioritised within the new cancer plan, and are writing to the new Minister James Morris MP too to make sure he prioritises this work.

Working with powerful allies

In addition to our official influencing work, it’s vital that we work with a broad range of influential people who can help us make sure the needs of people with pancreatic cancer are heard.

Recently, we’ve been really fortunate to have the support of Dame Clare Marx, who was Chair of the General Medical Council until she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. Clare is currently having treatment for her cancer but has, incredibly, still been working hard to make sure pancreatic cancer gets the attention it needs in the new cancer plan. She’s joined Diana, our Chief Executive, at key meetings to share her experiences, and has also met with key contacts in NHS England.

It can happen to anyone – last year I was diagnosed with locally advanced pancreatic cancer. I paid for private health care to get my diagnosis as fast as possible. So within 3 weeks I’d had an ultrasound, CT, MRI and PET scan. It is this speed that enabled me to get started with the chemotherapy which has so effectively extended my life. The NHS needs to be able to provide the same service.

I want to dedicate the time I have left to making a change for future patients – which is why I’m working so closely with Pancreatic Cancer UK to influence the new cancer plan.

Dame Clare Marx, former Chair of the General Medical Council and former President of the Royal College of Surgeons

Clare Marx

Tweaking our tactics

We’ve known from the start that what’s in this plan will be decided by lots of people with different priorities. So, we’re making sure decisionmakers understand that if they improve the experiences of people with pancreatic cancer they can improve care and treatment for people with cancer more broadly.

We’ve been keeping our eyes open for clues about what influences decisionmakers and have tailored our approach to this. For example, when we learned that key NHS officials wanted to design new projects to detect cancer early, we got involved by sharing recommendations on how this could work for pancreatic cancer. We hope this will mean our work will be picked up, and reflected in the cancer plan.

Following the departure of our previous Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in July, we’re also working hard to make sure the newcomer – Steve Barclay MP – understands the urgency of improving outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer and getting this plan out the door.

Joining forces

Together, our voices are stronger, so we’ve also been teaming up across the charity sector to make sure the cancer plan fully delivers. We’ve been working closely with the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce and the Cancer 52 alliance to call on the government to focus on rare, less survivable and less common cancers.

We’ve also worked with 54 other cancer charities, as the coalition ‘One Cancer Voice’, to issue a joint statement setting out 10 tests that the new Cancer Plan must meet for it to bring real change for people with cancer. And in the coming months, we’ll be joining forces again to make sure that the next Government doesn’t forget its ambition to lead the world in cancer care. At Pancreatic Cancer UK we’re determined to transform outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer and we won’t stop fighting for a better future.

Making sure pancreatic cancer is a priority across the UK

This plan is for England – but we’re also working hard to improve outcomes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Scottish Government is writing a new cancer strategy as we speak, which we’ve been doing all we can to influence to make sure that it puts pancreatic cancer front and centre. We’ve worked hard on our submission to the public consultation, and have included comments and views from our most engaged Scottish campaigners. If the Scottish Government takes our suggestions on board, we’ll see dramatic improvements to support and care for people with pancreatic cancer in Scotland by 2032. The strategy is due to be drafted by the end of the year, for launch next Spring.

We played a key role in co-producing Northern Ireland’s new cancer strategy, which was launched in March this year.  The strategy focuses on preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer, and improving the experience of people diagnosed with cancer. The implementation of the new strategy is on hold until Northern Ireland has a functioning Executive. We’ll be keeping a close eye on upcoming opportunities here.

Meanwhile, Wales have recently announced that they’ll be writing a new Cancer Services Action Plan, and we’ll be doing all we can to make sure that we’re feeding in as that’s developed.

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