Written by Sarah Miller - Head of Informatics, East of England Cancer Alliances

What We Do

The informatics team in the East of England Cancer Alliances provide a service to NHS England and NHS Improvement colleagues, local systems and hospital trusts to support them to understand and benchmark their local cancer populations, pathways and outcomes. Our overarching aim is to use informatics and intelligence to improve cancer care and experience for our patients in the East of England.

The informatics team provides regular updates for regional colleagues and all systems, to support cancer service improvements and identify best practice that can be shared and learned from.  A crucial part of the team’s collaborative approach is that we link in with a variety of stakeholders, including our Patient Advisory Board, clinicians, the National Cancer Programme, NHSE/I Performance and Improvement, NHSE/I Specialised Commissioning, Health Education England, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Primary Care, local authorities, public health experts, cancer managers in acute trusts and many others. 

We have developed a Local Cancer Alliance Toolkit for the East of England (LoCATE) in collaboration with the Strategic Intelligence Alliance aimed at NHS colleagues in the region, to provide an easily accessible store of, and signposting to, the latest cancer statistics available.

There exists variation in cancer outcomes across our footprint, and we use data and intelligence to drive local discussions with our stakeholders, to help reduce inequalities.  We track and monitor a variety of key metrics, including the two NHS Long Term Plan key cancer ambitions relating to improving early stage diagnoses and survival outcomes for our patients.

Recently we have been working on implementing changes to the cancer waiting times standards. Information on modernising the NHS Cancer Waiting Times Standards is available in a powerpoint slide. 

Our Population

There are around seven million people living within the East of England region.  Our population is spread across six health and social care systems, known as Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP) or Integrated Care Systems (ICS).  Three systems are within the East of England South Cancer Alliance – Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes; Hertfordshire and West Essex; and Mid and South Essex.  The three systems in the East of England North Cancer Alliance are Cambridgeshire and Peterborough; Norfolk and Waveney; and Suffolk and North East Essex.  We have fourteen acute trusts across our region currently delivering cancer services, with sixteen Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Annually there are 36,500 cancer diagnoses in our region, with approximately 215,500 people currently living in the East of England who were diagnosed with cancer at some time in the past.  Cancer tends to be a disease of the elderly, whereby adults aged 50-74 account for 54% of all new cancer cases, and elderly people aged 75+ account for more than one-third of cases across the UK.  Around one-fifth of the life expectancy gap in the East of England overall is due to cancer, reflecting the impact of the wider determinants of health on the development of cancer.

If you are a health professional working in cancer services and you are interested in the work of the informatics team, or feel you may benefit from having access to information toolkits or datasets, please contact england.eoecancerallianceteam@nhs.net .