UCL News


Progress on cancer services ‘inadequate’, finds panel led by UCL academic

31 March 2022

An expert panel, Chaired by UCL’s Professor Dame Jane Dacre, has concluded the UK Government’s overall progress to achieve its five key commitments on cancer services is ‘inadequate’.

Professor Dame Jane Dacre


Set up by the cross-party Health and Social Care Committee, the independent panel has piloted a new evaluation system, giving Care Quality Commission-style ratings on the government’s performance in meeting policy commitments on cancer services in England.

The objective evaluation is designed to enhance the select Committee’s core task of holding the government and ministers to account.

This is the independent Expert Panel’s third evaluation*, and the first time it has given an overall rating of ‘inadequate’ to Government commitments.  

Published today, the Panel’s report, ‘Evaluation of the Government’s commitments in the area of cancer services in England’ examined five key commitments across a range of policy areas: workforce; diagnostics; living well with and beyond cancer; and technology and innovation.

The Expert Panel acknowledges that while some progress has been made in areas such as investment in diagnostics and innovative technologies and treatments, the lack of adequate long-term planning for, and investment in, the cancer workforce undermined progress made and justified the inadequate rating.

Dame Jane, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee’s Expert Panel, and Professor of Medical Education at UCL, said: “It is clear that cancer services are facing overwhelming pressure. We identified one recurrent theme - shortages of professional staff across cancer services are undermining achievement across every commitment we looked at.

“Overall, we rate Government progress to meet its commitments as inadequate, the first time that we have found sufficient concerns in an area to warrant this rating.

“On individual commitments, we also rate progress to increase the numbers being diagnosed at earlier stages of cancer as inadequate, while progress on faster diagnosis requires improvement.

“Despite a commitment that all those with cancer will have access to personalised care, we found provision patchy without enough staff to give the care that patients have a right to expect.

“Our evaluation has also uncovered stark inequalities across cancer types and different regions in the country, not only on diagnosis but in what that will mean for their chances of survival."

The Health and Social Care Committee’s Expert Panel consists of five core members. To assist the Panel’s evaluation into cancer services in England, they were joined by five cancer services specialists.

The work of the Expert Panel was conducted alongside an inquiry by the Committee into cancer services with its report to be published next week.

*The two previous evaluations conducted by the independent expert panel were on Maternity Services and Mental Health Services and both were graded as ‘requires improvement’.



Media contact 

Henry Killworth

Tel: + 44 (0) 7881 833274

E: h.killworth [at] ucl.ac.uk