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Knowledge Hub

Question over where cash for cancer testing is going

What can be done to make sure funding is spent on cancer diagnostics?

A report by Cancer Research UK has found that, despite additional funding, seven of the 24 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that provided their budgets reported a decrease in cancer diagnostic spending between 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Capacity to diagnose? An analysis of cancer diagnostic activity in England reveals how variable diagnostic testing is in different areas of the country and suggests funding might have been spent in other parts of the NHS.

With demand predicted to rise for already stretched services, the 2015 cancer plan made early diagnosis a priority for the government and NHS England. Up to £300m was promised for diagnostics by 2020. But many of the 106 CCGs which responded to the survey could not provide figures on previous demand or predict levels for the future.

The report said nine in 10 CCGs were aware of the guidance to ensure adequate diagnostic capacity to meet the needs of patients.

The report called for NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care to hold CCGs to account to improve diagnostic services and to ring fence future funding increases.

Report author Sara Bainbridge said some areas of the country had no definite plans to boost diagnostic capacity. Without this, she said, England will continue to lag other countries in cancer survival.

Further information

Cancer Research UK: Unclear if cancer test funding is being used as intended