Where next for cancer services in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales? An evaluation of priorities to improve patient care


Session type:


Emlyn Samuel1,Leo Ewbank1,David Morrison2
1Cancer Research UK,2University of Glasgow



Cancer Research UK believes that by 2034 three in four people can survive their cancer for at least ten years. High-quality cancer services across the UK will be vital to achieving this.

Today, following devolution, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have slightly different healthcare systems. Each country has its own dedicated cancer strategy and these are at different stages of development and implementation.

Cancer Research UK commissioned the University of Glasgow to explore the current ‘state’ of cancer services in the three devolved nations. The study provides country-specific analysis, recommendations for change and outlines our ambition for the shape of cancer services going forward.


The project took approximately 12 months and used the following methods:

  • Analysis of publicly available data sets.
  • Evaluation of the existing policy architecture.
  • Assessment of performance against current targets.
  • Semi-structured interviews with expert stakeholders from each country.


The results show that each system has strengths and weaknesses – but there are some common areas for improvement. All systems are struggling to meet cancer waiting time targets; diagnostic capacity is a bottleneck; and workforce planning requires improvement. In other respects, the three countries have distinct needs; the reports therefore puts forward a unique set of recommendations for each.


The findings of this project, which the poster will summarise, have the potential to inform official cancer strategies in the devolved nations. The Welsh Government is currently developing the successor to its Cancer Delivery Plan and the Northern Ireland Executive is formulating a new healthcare agenda.[i] Results from this project are being fed into both processes.

[i] Welsh Government (2012) Together for Health – Cancer Delivery Plan. http://bit.ly/2b5MDNC, Last accessed 09/08/2016.