The history and role of the cancer alliance

Formed on 1 April 2020, we are one of 21 cancer alliances across England. Cancer Alliances were established as a result of recommendations made by the Independent Cancer Taskforce report, ‘Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020

The 21 cancer alliances, although they do have a focus on local priorities, have common areas as set out by NHSE:

  • Cancer alliances must have a Chief Medial Officer, Board Chair and Managing Director
  • Funding is allocated directly from NHSE
  • National priorities are set out in annual planning guidance which all alliances respond to with work plans for the year
  • Cancer Alliances are responsible, through NHS England, to the National Cancer Transformation Board.
  • They determine how national funding should be directed to support their transformation programme to improve survival, early diagnosis, patient experience and long-term quality of life across a whole population.

For more information about cancer alliances, visit the NHS webpage.

Our roles and responsibilities

Whole-system and whole-pathway delivery: Alliances will work with provider collaboratives and other system partners to improve the delivery of cancer pathways, including performance against the operational standards for cancer.

Alliances will work across the whole pathway, providing the link to partners including: prevention, screening and public health services; primary care; diagnostic networks; operational delivery networks (e.g. for radiotherapy); community diagnostic centers; end of life care providers. Alliances will also ensure alignment with wider system plans, for example on workforce, health inequalities, digital and research innovation.

Clinical leadership: Alliance will facilitate clinical expert groups for cancer to provide clinical leadership for cancer within their local system.

Strategic commissioning: as part of our planning role, Cancer Alliances will advise their ICB(s) on the commissioning of routine and specialised cancer services, including associated diagnostic services, to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet the needs of people with cancer or suspected cancer.

Operational performance: Cancer Alliances are responsible for monitoring operational performance and identifying, diagnosing and acting on areas of weakness. This includes leading local pathway re-design and other support to improve operational performance.

Find out more about our programmes of work.

National priorities

  • Improve Cancer Waiting Times performance with a focus on achieving the Faster Diagnosis Standard (FDS) and reducing the number of the longest waiting patients on cancer pathways
  • ​​​Deliver 100% population coverage for Non-Specific Symptoms (NSS) pathways
  • Set out objectives for early diagnosis of cancer, with a particular focus on the most deprived 20%
  • Targeted Lung Health Check programme – expand to more areas
  • Diagnostic innovations – e.g. cytosponge and GRAIL
  • Ensure the following personalised care interventions are available for all cancer patients, and data is submitted to COSD for:  
    • Personalised Care and Support Planning (PCSP) based on Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) 
    • End of Treatment Summary (EOTS)

Local challenges

  • Extremely diverse population
  • 5/7 boroughs have predominantly non-white population
  • 'White other' population
  • Associated differing health care beliefs / access to healthcare
  • Deprivation & poverty
  • Pollution 
  • High smoking rates
  • Industry legacy
Impact on cancer care
  • Language barriers e.g. no word for 'screening' in Romanian
  • Access to primary care
  • Altered health-care beliefs 
  • 'Industry-related' cancers
Healthcare reasons
  • 2 very large Trusts & 1 smaller Trust
  • No uniform computer systems
  • Lack of EPR
Screening uptake
  • Low uptake across London as a whole
  • Working to improve the data, especially the breakdown of those not attending so we can tailor our activity
Priorities for tackling inequalities
  • Understand our population 
  • Accurate data
  • Build picture of health inequalities across the alliance
  • Identify unique challenges
  • Appropriate, targeted interventions
  • Equitable approach across the alliance
  • 'Covid-related missing cancers'