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I’m in Coventry this week doing a piece of work with the City Council and partners for Macmillan Cancer Support. The essential driver for the work is that the cancer profile in the UK is changing. Due to our lifestyles and our growing life expectancy more people get cancer, but due to investment in prevention and to advances in medical care, more people survive cancer. In other words, as Macmillan chief executive Ciaran Devane puts it, “the number of people dying from cancer is falling but the number of people diagnosed with illness is rising.”

Macmillan estimates that the number of people living with or beyond cancer stands at two million and is rising by more 3% a year.

The challenge for the country – and for charities like macmillan and for statutory and government agencies – is how to support the growing number of people for whom cancer wasn’t a death sentence, but whose lives have been deeply affected by the disease.  (See for example the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative)

My work for Macmillan, with Coventry, is to take a look at existing community services for people affected by cancer and to make some recommendations for improvement. I have a five day programme during which I will be speaking to services users, frontline professionals, GPs, consultants, service managers as well as elected members, directors and the chief executive. After 2 days I have been impressed by people’s willingness to engage and encouraged at their openness to new ideas.

It goes without saying that this is not a project can hope recommend huge amounts of new spending, so the emphasis is on innovation and service redesign. Not the old cliché about doing more with less, but doing things differently. Doing the right things and doing them better.

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