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An effective inequalities approach for a cancer alliance

A primary function of cancer alliances is to reduce inequalities in access, the experience of care, and outcomes for cancer patients and the wider population. We've been supporting our customers to understand what support systems are needed to provide added value to their local work programmes. By identifying common areas of work to take forward in addressing inequalities we have established an effective cancer inequalities workstream to ensure services are provided in an integrated way to reduce health inequalities.


Challenge

The NHS Long Term Plan 2019 makes a commitment to reduce health inequalities and increase ‘healthy life expectancy by 2035’. The NHS Cancer Programme ‘Cancer Services Recovery Plan’ published in December 2020 included a commitment to reduce inequalities and ensure services are provided in an integrated way to reduce health inequalities. A primary function of Cancer Alliances is to reduce inequalities in access, the experience of care, and outcomes for cancer patients and the wider population. 

Our customer, Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire (SWAG) needed to understand what support systems they needed to provide to ‘add value’ to their local work programmes. And to identify common areas of work to take forward in addressing inequalities.

Approach

In collaboration with the SWAG Public Health Consultant Board member, we provided programme management and cancer subject matter expertise to establish the SWAG Population Health & Inequalities Group. 

The Public Health Consultant board member became chair of the newly created group. We developed the meeting format and draft Terms of Reference for the group. To support the group’s foundation, we engaged with all systems, (ICS/CCG/Local Authority/Public Health) and the voluntary sector and contributed to local CCG/ICS cancer inequalities groups.

In support of the inequalities agenda, we redesigned the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) role to include the inequalities remit and developed a successful business case for Macmillan funding for this post. 

Further support was provided by SCW’s Cancer Business Intelligence team. They developed ICS/STP Early Diagnosis data packs and a dashboard of key metrics related to inequalities and early cancer diagnosis to support primary care with the cancer element of the PCN DES.

Outcome

SWAG has improved its approach to inequalities with the creation of the Population Health & Inequalities Group including membership from systems, public health, local authority, voluntary sector and patient/carers.

The appointment of the SWAG Cancer Alliance Engagement & Inequalities Lead has ensured the continued development of the inequalities workstream. 

Ongoing membership in local STP/ICS cancer inequalities steering groups provides the opportunity for SWAG and each of the systems to work collectively to identify and tackle issues related to cancer inequalities.

ICS/STP Early Diagnosis data packs and dashboard are being actively used across systems to identify areas of good practice and target areas for improvement.

SCW provided excellent and very professional support in my new role as chair of the health inequalities group for SWAG. Your knowledge and expertise in the field of cancer is extensive and this has been of great help in establishing the health inequalities cancer group. Through your networks you have been able to ensure the best engagement for this group and have helped it to make steady progress in line with its Terms of Reference, which you drew up.  Consultant in Population Health and Public Health Medicine & Chairperson SWAG Cancer Alliance Population Health & Inequalities Group

It has been a pleasure to work with SCW who are creative, proactive and deliver work to a high standard. This work will allow us to progress our plans in this area.  Managing Director, SWAG Cancer Alliance

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