NAO warns over cancer care value for money

Cancer care has improved since 2007 but its value for money is questionable due to inadequate data collection by PCTs, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report, which analyses the effect of the 2007 Cancer Reform Strategy on care, estimates the NHS spends £6.3bn on cancer services each year.

Services have improved since 2007, although many hundreds of millions of pounds could be further saved if efficiency was improved.

But data collection about spending and outcomes is so poor many PCTs have little idea whether their commissioning benefits patients, it says.

Despite the issues, cancer care has improved since 2007, the report concludes.

Cancer patients spent 281,000 fewer days in hospital between 2006/07 and 2008/09. The average length of stay fell from 8.2 days to 7.7 days.

But emergency admissions continue to rise by 2% per year, despite pledges in the strategy to reduce them. Since 2000/01, emergency admissions have doubled.

The report found PCTs spend on cancer care varies from £55 to £154 per head.

But most PCTs have not recorded sufficient data to analyse performance and value for money, the NAO warns. Just 22% of PCTs attempted to assess value for money delivered by cancer service providers.

The NAO report concludes that although progress has been made, 'commissioners' poor understanding of costs and outcomes mean that they do not know whether they are commissioning services which optimise outcomes for patients'.

It adds: 'Furthermore, the department has limited assurance as to whether implementation of the strategy is achieving value for money.'

Karen Taylor, director of health value for money studies at the NAO, said: ‘There is a lack of high quality information on spending costs and outcomes. That lack of information is inhibiting further improvement.’

David Stout, director of the NHS Confederation’s PCT Network, said it was important to acknowledge the role PCTs have played in improving care.

"However, we fully recognise that further progress is required in a number of areas,' he said.

Mr Stoute said PCTs had been 'hampered' in achieving good value for money by inconsistent national data sets, the quality of coding and 'cumbersome' payment systems.

'It is vital that these national problems are recognised by the DoH. The government needs to understand and act on what is holding back local organisations.'

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GPs should carry out 45% of consultations remotely after pandemic, says Hancock

GPs should carry out 45% of consultations remotely after pandemic, says Hancock

Nearly half of GP consultations should continue to be delivered remotely after the...

Lockdown exit risks magnifying ‘incredible pressure’ on doctors, BMA warns

Lockdown exit risks magnifying ‘incredible pressure’ on doctors, BMA warns

The government’s plan to exit the national lockdown is ‘full of risks’ and could...

New GMC guidance on consent explained

New GMC guidance on consent explained

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Kathryn Leask uses a series of case examples to explain...

Which COVID-19 vaccines are lined up for roll-out on the NHS?

Which COVID-19 vaccines are lined up for roll-out on the NHS?

As GPs and their teams prepare for delivering a COVID-19 vaccination programme that...

BAME doctors face COVID 'double hit' as pandemic drives rise in complaints

BAME doctors face COVID 'double hit' as pandemic drives rise in complaints

Black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) doctors face a 'double hit' from COVID-19...

Practices can use £150m COVID fund to hire locum GPs, BMA confirms

Practices can use £150m COVID fund to hire locum GPs, BMA confirms

GP practices in England can use their share of a £150m COVID capacity fund to hire...