The Cancer Recovery Plan published in June 2021 by the Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA, not only addresses immediate service improvement requirements but also acts as precursor to the new Strategy and addresses around 70% of the first 3 years of recommendations made in the strategy.
The draft strategy has a central vision to ensure that everyone in Northern Ireland, wherever they live, has equitable and timely access to the most effective, evidence-based referral, diagnosis, treatment, support and person centred cancer care.
The ambition of this strategy is to have a world class service which is based on improving outcomes for everyone diagnosed with cancer.
The draft Strategy sets out 67 high-level recommendations over 4 themes to take forward significant strategic change over the next decade. These are:
- Preventing Cancer
- Diagnosing and Treating Cancer
- Supporting People
- Implementing the Strategy
The implementation of the Cancer Strategy will be a significant project and will span 10 years. The implementation will be inclusive and cross sectoral and will draw on existing co-production structures.
The Strategy development commenced in May 2019 but was very significantly impacted by COVID-19. There was extensive input and direction from a wide range of stakeholders during the co-production of the Strategy. This included those with lived experience, carers, community and voluntary organisations, academics, health professionals and their representative bodies, Health and Social Care organisations, politicians and government departments.
We have sought to consult and engage as broadly as possible during the development of this draft Cancer Strategy. Social distancing constraints associated with the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the more usual methods of co-production, such as face to face meetings, focus groups and engagement events, were not possible. During the pandemic, co-production has been taken forward via virtual means.
This consultation is designed to provide a wide range of stakeholder to provide feedback on the work that has been carried out on the strategy and recommendations to date and; contribute to the further development of the strategy. Consultation responses will form the basis of a new policy for delivery of Cancer Services in Northern Ireland.
The consultation will run from 25 August 2021 to 20 October 2021, the EQIA will be consulted on for an additional four weeks until 17 November 2021.