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Nurse-led cancer care needs more government focus, say MPs

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The Department of Health must do more to measure the impact of alternative approaches to cancer aftercare such as nurse-led follow-ups, according to an influential group of MPs.

The government made a commitment to deliver more cost-effective follow-up care with the number of cancer survivors set to increase to two million by 2020.

But MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have said the DH must get better at collecting and analysing data to show what really works.

“The department should also identify and disseminate examples of good practice where savings and benefits to patients are identified, and evaluate what impact alternative approaches to follow-up care have on hospital activity,” said the committee’s report on the government’s cancer reform strategy.

The National Cancer Survivorship Initiative is looking into ways to improve cancer aftercare, working closely with organisations like MacMillan Cancer Support.

Nurse-led initiatives are among new approaches to helping patients recover from treatment and get on with their lives.

These can include follow-up appointments with nurses, nurses offering telephone support and support groups run by nurses.

The committee also highlighted the fact cancer survival rates in England are still poor compared to the best-performing European countries.

And it flagged up wide variations in the performance of cancer services and delivery of treatment across the country.

It said it a lack of information about important aspects of cancer services such as the use of chemotherapy was hampering efforts to improve services.

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