NHS England has today (15 December) announced £6.9 million of new funding to support and spread the work of the national Cancer Vanguard (Accountable Cancer Network).

The national Cancer Vanguard is a partnership between Greater Manchester Cancer Vanguard Innovation, RM Partners and the UCLH Cancer Collaborative.

The vanguards are partnerships of NHS, local government, voluntary, community and other organisations that are implementing plans to improve the healthcare people receive, prevent ill health and save funds.

Considerable progress has been made since the vanguards were launched in 2015 and there is emerging evidence that they are making significant improvements at a local level. This includes reducing pressure on busy GP and A&E services.

In addition to the funding, the Cancer Vanguard will continue to receive support from NHS England and other national bodies to implement their plans, including how they harness new technology including apps and shared computer systems. They are also receiving help to develop their workforce so that it is organised around patients and their local populations.

Samantha Jones, Director of the New Care Models Programme said: “The vanguards are making great progress and have already made a tangible impact on the lives of patients and the working lives of staff.  2017/18 is a crucial year for the vanguards, in particular how we further spread their work across the wider NHS and care services.  This funding, as well as the support we offer to them, will help them to continue to move at pace.”

Roger Spencer, Chair of the Cancer Vanguard Oversight Group and Chief Executive of The Christie, said: “Today’s announcement is hugely positive and a very tangible demonstration that the NHS leadership is prepared to invest in improving cancer patient outcomes and experience.

“Over the next year the support from the national vanguard programme will enable us to conclude our important programme of work, crystallising models that can be replicated and adopted throughout the NHS. The emergence of the new national Cancer Alliances presents an outstanding opportunity to cascade these models and achieve long term impact for patient benefit.”

Nicola Hunt, managing director, RM Partners, said: “We are delighted to have received this funding from NHS England. It will enable us to continue to improve the care of everyone affected by cancer and achieve world-class cancer outcomes for our population across London and Manchester.”

Prof Geoff Bellingan, Medical Director for Cancer at UCLH, said: “As a national Cancer Vanguard we are transforming earlier cancer diagnosis and trialling new care models for cancer patients, including through a series of partnerships with pharma companies to make better use of cancer drugs. We are also developing options for long-term health system improvement, such as the prime provider model. We are working together to ensure that people can live well after a cancer diagnosis, as well as receiving high quality palliative and end-of-life care where appropriate.”

Mike Thorpe, service user involvement representative in Greater Manchester, said:

“This is fantastic news. The vanguard team is doing some very impressive work and I’ve been struck by their commitment and can-do attitude.

“This announcement will help them carry on their good work, which is all about saving lives. I’ve seen at first-hand how quickly the projects are moving so it’s important the money is there for the team to take them forward and make the best use of resources.”

Nationally, the total funding allocated to the national Cancer Vanguard matches that of 2016/17 and will be matched by funds and resources from the vanguards themselves.

New models of care, including the work of the vanguards, are key to the delivery of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) which are being developed across the country.

In order to secure their allocated funds, vanguards will need to meet a number of conditions including:

  • spread of their new care models within and across STPs, including production of guidance and materials for others to use;
  • full implementation of the published care model frameworks – what good looks like within their vanguard type;
  • clear quality improvements and costs/savings.

As with 2016-17, local evaluation remains a critical part of the programme and will be funded separately, with details set out at a later date.