NHS England has announced that it will stream £130 million into kickstarting a radiotherapy modernisation programme across England.
Over the next two years, the funds are to pay for over 100 replacements or upgrades of radiotherapy machines, enabling completion of half of the five-year modernisation programme recommended by the independent Cancer Taskforce to improve services.
Around 40 percent of all NHS cancer patients are treated with radiotherapy, which typically uses high-energy radiation from a machine called a linear accelerator (Linacs). It is recommended that these machines are replaced after around 10 years in operation, but this is now long overdue, as the last time there was a major national investment for this was back in the early 2000s.
Recent advances in radiotherapy using cutting-edge imaging and computing technology have helped target radiation doses at cancer cells more precisely, improving both treatment outcomes and reducing NHS costs. NHS England says it wants patients to get access to the latest leading edge technology regardless of where they live.
"Modern Linacs and software will mean hundreds of thousands of patients across England will now benefit from huge advances in precision cancer treatment," said NHS chief executive Simon Stevens.
Welcoming the move, chief executive of Cancer Research UK Harpal Kumar said: "Quickly replacing older radiotherapy machines and giving patients the most modern treatment that will give them the best chance of survival, while also reducing side effects. Technological advances in recent years have been immense, and this investment in state-of-the-art equipment will change the face of cancer treatment across England."