Funding and staff 'cut' for cancer networks

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Clinical networks which oversee the care of cancer, heart and stroke patients in the NHS have had their budgets and staff cut, figures show.

Some of the groups say they are postponing projects due to uncertainty from the changes made in England.

The data comes as a result of Freedom Of Information (FOI) questions put to the networks by Labour.

Ministers are confident the networks - set up to improve care and prevention of disease - will continue to do so.

But the shadow care minister, Liz Kendall, claimed the figures showed the networks were "in chaos" and facing "huge uncertainty about their future".

There are currently 28 cancer networks and 28 stroke and heart networks - both areas will be condensed into 12 groups across England after April, with diabetes joining heart and stroke care.

'Scaled back'

More than 75% of the clinical networks responded to the FOI request.

The cancer teams said funding had been cut by around 25%, and 73 staff had been lost since 2009.

The teams looking after heart and stroke care said their funding had been cut by 12% and 38 posts had gone in the past three years.

Start Quote

The fact that the Board is putting £42m into the networks is a sign of how important we think they are.”

End Quote Prof Sir Mike Richards NHS Commissioning Board

Ms Kendall said: "Ministers have repeatedly promised to protect the funding for clinical networks. The government should be working to support these local specialists."

The networks have been credited with improving and streamlining care for patients at a local level, and making their treatment more straightforward if they have to attend several hospitals.

Examples of achievements include reorganising stroke services so fewer patients die, and speeding up X-ray results for faster cancer diagnosis.

In the FOI responses, the networks say programmes they use to support doctors and nurses are already being scaled back - examples given include a chemotherapy nurse post not being replaced and community training programmes in rehabilitation after stroke no longer running.

'Unsettling times'

An oncologist from Yorkshire, where the new network will cover the whole of the Yorkshire and Humber region, said: "I never dreamt that a leviathan such as what is being proposed would be the plan.

"The new network will be too big to be able to reflect local capabilities and needs, yet too small to have the authority of national guidelines."

The NHS Commissioning Board plans to give funding worth £42m to four clinical network areas from April.

They will be cancer, cardiovascular disease, maternity and children's services, and mental health -including dementia. Posts for new clinical directors for different disease areas are due to be advertised next week.

The national director for cancer, Prof Sir Mike Richards, who will be the board's director for reducing premature mortality, acknowledged that cancer networks would have a "smaller proportion" of the networks' budget in the future - and he admitted the coming weeks would be "unsettling and difficult" for staff who might receive notices of their jobs being at risk.

He said: "Everybody recognises that the networks have played a huge part in delivering change. They have been a very important channel between the patients and doctors, and the Department of Health.

"I am confident that in the future the networks will continue to play their important role.

"The fact that the Board is putting £42m into the networks, as against the current £33m, is a good sign of how important we think they are.

"Although cancer networks will have a smaller proportion of the budget in the future, there are still backroom efficiencies that can be made, to make things work more effectively. Increasing the footprint of each network will make them more cost-efficient.

"I do recognise this is a time of maximum uncertainty, particularly with staff being put on notice. The next few weeks will be difficult."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Nice to see a rattled Tory. Name ONE thing this government has done to support the people of this country. Apart from the elite and the Establishment. Buying expensive subs to warmonger and sabre rattle and divert funds from real people caring for real people does not count.

  • Comment number 185.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    I think this is also indicative of gov being lazy amateurs- all they do is literally take a spreadsheet of money, lop a % off it or move some around- so it adds up, then pass it down the ranks. They have no clue nor interest as to how that is translated in practice eg cancer networks closing.

    I bet none of them, especially mr hunt, could hold more than a 2min conversation of any detail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    Cut cut cut. . . . . . .and we're taxed to the hilt. . . . . . . . . . . . So where exactly is all our money going then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    Another example of a false economy ... it will end up costing more in both £'s & stress for the patients

    Someone co-ordinating makes sense in complex treatments with different Depts as often the right hand doesnt know what the left one is doing

    NHS "safe in our hands" my backside

    All you get is lies & spin whilst the private sector waits in the wings rubbing its hands, ready to cherry pick

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    what puzzles me is that total public expenditure is not falling, so if these areas are being cut, other areas must be seeing increases. the only area that I know of that is increasing is overseas aid. If that means cancer care at home is suffering i think its time to revisit the overseas aid budget.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    Better read David Icke on the global banking system and how money is created.....Yes there is plenty of money around people, it's just being used to keep us in our place.....
    Sounds very stylish maybe we can borrow even more then.
    Sounds like another good Lab. plan.

    Maybe a reality check is in order.
    Lab 50% tax cost UK £7bn HMRC

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Sick of Labour sycophants on here. Labour have never stated how they would fund any of their proposals whilst in opposition (if they can pay off the debts without cutting then put the country first and share!) and acted exactly the same when in power. Essentially all politicians act the same now and you need to take the blinkers off and direct your anger properly towards ALL parties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    The NHS is DOOMED in Tory hands. When its gone those who think they can afford private care had better have big wallets.Just look at privatised gas and electric. Cancer will mean certain death for the masses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    No one will feel really vested in these cuts until a relative or friend - or the individual his/herself - is directly afffected. Until this happens, it's as though we stand outside the fray, and view it with awareness, maybe even a litle sympathy, but from a distance.
    But the resources had better be there - when cancer comes for you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    Tax evasion
    Tax cuts for the rich
    Drugs companies/suppliers ripping of the NHS

    etc etc blah blah.

    There are hundreds of billions to be saved, this hideous Government specifically targets the most vulnerable in our society because the most vulnerable are the least likely to have a voice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    There seems to be money for submarines but not for cancer care. No clearer message where the priorities of this Government lies in making 'tough choices.'
    By the time the submarine is built, there will be nothing of value worth defending.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    So a part of the NHS allocates more money to other part of the NHS but at the expense of admin people in another part of the NHS.

    Cue the rabid Left frothing about privatisation of the NHS.

    Why do we need "Clinical Network teams" to make the NHS work though? Surely this should be hard wired into the system. The fact it isn't just highlights the need for change and reform.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    One of the lies from this dismal government is NHS funding has been protected.

    As anyone working in association with the NHS knows "Savings" of £20,000 Million over the next 4 Years have been required (20% of the entire English annual NHS Budget).
    This is because Health care inflation, more old people hence more elderly care ,drugs etc is running at 6%+ pa and funding is increasing at 3%

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    People have yet to grasp the reality that the world has moved on since 2010. The deficit is much bigger that estimated then.

    Countries have always run in debt, well certainly the UK since WW2.

    Questions need to be asked, like why do the govt feel the urge to take from the poor but not the rich? Or more importantly why are the money men calling in their markers all of a sudden?

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    “DNA mapping is good news indeed but it will take ten or more years to become a reality in cancer treatment etc.”

    Yes, but we have limited funds. I think the DNA mapping is the better option. Otherwise 10y down the line, people will still be saying “Cancer patients need treatment NOW" if we invest in research now, we’ll be able to say that they are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    I think it's now fair to describe Cameron & his entire govt as SOCIOPATHS! Nothing they have done has been for the benefit of anyone without substantial personal finances. Time to show them the door for good
    Oh good & lets all reward LAB with a vote for doing such a good job the last time.
    Maybe we'll be lucky & LAb will come with unlimited resources to squander yet again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    People have yet to grasp the reality that the world has moved on since 2010. The deficit is much bigger that estimated then. Expecting the NHS to be immune from savings is completely unrealistic.
    The question of how savings are made and how they are implemented is an issue for NHS management.
    I have little confidence in their competence or effectiveness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    @166. a_responsibility_to_awe
    "he cheapest and best way to treat cancer is ...NHS"
    How many are insolvent again?

    "You seem to view choosing cancer treatment as though it was choosing a utility supplier"
    How is it different? U require a service, albeit more essential, so u must find a provider. Why would the laws of economics change for this, food, clothing etc etc?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Better read David Icke on the global banking system and how money is created.....Yes there is plenty of money around people, it's just being used to keep us in our place.....


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