About cancer

National standards for treatment and care

The NHS Cancer Plan and Improving Outcomes: a Strategy for Cancer

In 2000 the NHS cancer plan was published, this outlined the services needed to provide high quality cancer treatment and care for all patients. The cancer plan recommended that the treatment and care of all people with cancer should be provided by specialist cancer teams using, wherever possible, nationally agreed treatment guidelines. The guidelines described the services that should be available, the specialist teams needed and the sorts of treatment and care that should be offered to patients, for each type of cancer.

This had been followed up, and regularly reviewed over the years – the most recent, the Independent Cancer Taskforce has been established (January 2015) by NHS England.  This has been set up to develop the next five year strategy 'Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020' which aims to improve survival rates and save thousands of lives.

Hospital ratings

Every year the healthcare commission assesses how hospitals in England are performing against a set of government targets. This used to result in star ratings and ‘league tables’ for hospitals. Hospitals were awarded no stars or one, two or three stars depending on how well they were doing (three is the best). There were often stories in the media about these star ratings, but it is important to remember that they were introduced in response to specific government targets and may not relate to the quality of cancer care provided by a hospital.

In 2006 the Healthcare commission published the first NHS annual health check which was to be far more wide-ranging and tougher than the old system of star ratings. The Healthcare Commission, along with the Commission for Social Care Inspection and the Mental Health Act Commission ceased to exist on 31 March 2009. The Care Quality Commission is the new health and social care regulator for England, and has taken over the inspection of hospitals, etc.

It scores NHS trusts on many aspects of their performance, including the quality of the services they provide to patients and the public and how well they manage their finances and other resources such as their property and staff. These scores are based on a range of information gathered throughout the year.