Cancer care in the UK

Cancer is estimated to cost the UK approximately £17 billion a year, only a third of which is direct spending on healthcare.1 At this time of increasing incidence and survival rates,2, 3 it is imperative that the National Health Service (NHS) is able to deliver more with less and provide the best care for patients.

  • While the UK spends more money on healthcare than the rest of Europe, it allocates far less of its health spending to cancer (3.8%) than the EU average (5%).1
  • Half of the UK population born after 1960 can now expect to receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.4
  • While the UK’s survival rates for cancer still lag behind many other European countries,5 enhancements in our understanding and treatment of cancer mean that the situation is improving.6 In 2015, it was estimated that more than 2.5 million people in the UK were living with cancer.7

A cancer diagnosis is not only life-changing for a patient, it is hugely costly to both the NHS and the wider economy. Rising incidence rates are placing additional capacity pressures on the NHS at a time when budgets are tight and efficiency savings need to be made.8

These pressures can often lead to money being allocated towards short-term approaches and managing immediate pressures, rather than transforming services and disseminating best practice.

All.Can UK initiative

In the UK, All.Can is a partnership between Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), a global biopharmaceutical company, and The Patients Association, a leading national charity which is dedicated to supporting the rights and interests of all patients and their families. All.Can UK was initiated by BMS, which fully funds the programme.

The initiative brings together a collaborative working group of health charities and clinicians to identify the current problems facing cancer services in the UK and develop recommendations to help improve patient care through best practice implementation and long-term thinking.

In order to support the NHS in improving patient care, All.Can carries out the following activities:

  • Leads and commissions research to gather evidence on where system inefficiencies exist and helps identify ways to improve efficiency in cancer care
  • Develops concrete tools and platforms for stakeholders to work together to ensure cancer care decisions are based on what matters to patients, and resources are used as effectively as possible
  • Helps to implement concrete policy actions based on these findings.

All.Can UK looks to provide proactive and implementable solutions for UK policymakers and NHS leaders to improve NHS efficiency, share learnings from best practice in cancer care and develop a world-class cancer service in the UK.

Breaking the Cycle in Cancer Care

All.Can UK held its first expert Working Group meeting in December 2016, which led to the development of the report, Transforming the Cycle in Cancer Care.

The report was launched in Parliament on 22 March 2017. It sets out recommendations for transforming cancer care by identifying and implementing existing best practice throughout the NHS. It shows that improving efficiency is not just about cutting costs, but rather focusing resources on delivering what matters most to patients.

An animation and a fact sheet based on the report have been published to support the dissemination of its key messages.



A Pathway to Sustainable Innovation

All.Can UK’s expert working group reconvened to look at how best practice can be identified and disseminated throughout the NHS as part of the Transforming the Cycle of Cancer Care programme. Specifically, the group looked at how examples of best-practice care can be introduced more widely in order to break the ‘negative cycle of cancer care’, where a short-term approach can often lead to increased longer-term costs.9

The report, A Pathway to Sustainable Innovation: Best Practice in Cancer Care, launched in June 2018, identifies five common barriers to the adoption of best practice and a number of case studies that have overcome these challenges and demonstrated both improved patient outcomes and a more effective use of NHS resources. The report also includes a business case template that can be used by NHS services in order to adopt best-practice processes in their local area. It is hoped that the report’s recommendations, best-practice case studies and business case template will provide a blueprint for Cancer Alliances and other NHS organisations to implement transformational change to the way cancer services and care are delivered to patients



1. Office of Health Economics & Swedish Institute for Health Economics (2016), Improving Efficiency and Resource Allocation in Future Cancer Care. Available at: [Last accessed: May 2018].
2. Cancer Research UK (2018), Cancer incidence statistics. Available at: [Last accessed: May 2018].
3. Cancer Research UK (2014), Cancer Statistics for the UK: Cancer Survival. Available at: [Last accessed: May 2018].
4. Cancer Research UK (2016), Lifetime risk of cancer. Available at: [Last accessed: May 2018].
5. ABPI (2017), Interactive cancer data toolkit: survival. Available at: [Last accessed: May 2018].
6. NHS England (2017), NHS cancer care has never been better with over two thousand more people surviving cancer every year. Available at: [Last accessed: May 2018].
7. Macmillan (2015), 2.5 million people now living with cancer in UK, Macmillan reveals today. Available at: [Last accessed: May 2018].
8. NHS England (2017), Next steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View. Available at: [Last accessed: May 2018]
9. Bristol-Myers Squibb (2017), Transforming the Cycle in Cancer Care. Job Bag: ONCUK1700193-01. Date of prep: Feb 2017.

Job Code: ONCUK1800817-01
Date of preparation: September 2018


All.Can UK was initiated and funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb, who fully fund the programme. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative involving patient, clinical, academic and industry experts as well as policymakers.

The international All.Can initiative is made possible with financial support from Bristol-Myers Squibb (main sponsor), Amgen, MSD and Johnson & Johnson (sponsors) and Varian (contributor), with additional non-financial support from Intacare and Goings-On.

All.Can is a trademark of The Health Policy Partnership Ltd.

A range of health charities from across the cancer community have inputted into the development of this programme and the UK initiative has been supported and developed in partnership with the leading national charity The Patients Association.