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Breaking the Cycle of Cancer Care

This article is produced and funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb with support from The Patients Association.

Cancer prevalence in the UK is increasing; current estimates show that one in two of us born after 1960 will turn to the NHS for a form of cancer treatment at one point in our livesi. However, the UK allocates much less of its health spending to cancer (3.8%) than the EU average (5%) and survival lags behind much of Europe.
Whilst the NHS has set itself the target of radically improving cancer outcomes over the next five years, it is likely that this target will have to be achieved without significant extra investment. This squeeze on NHS resources can lead to a negative cycle in cancer care, where too often a short term approach that focuses on immediate pressures can often lead to longer term costs, resulting in fewer resources being available.ii
In order to support the NHS to radically improve patient outcomes iii , we need to break the negative cycle in cancer care. To address this challenge, Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Patients Association are working alongside experts and patients from across the cancer space to identify new models of service delivery, showcase best practice, and provide real improvements in patient care.


Job bag: ONCUK1700375-01
Date of preparation: April 2017

Ahmad AS, Ormiston-Smith N, Sasieni PD. Trends in the lifetime risk of developing cancer in Great Britain: Comparison of risk for those born in 1930 to 1960. Br J Cancer 2015; 112: 943-947

ii Cole, A, Lundqvist A, Lorgelly P, et al. Office of Health Economic and Swedish Institute for Health Economics, 2016. Improving Efficiency and Resource Allocation in Future Cancer Care. Available here: (Accessed: September 2016).

Independent Cancer Taskforce, 2015. Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes a Strategy for England 2015-2020, available here: [Accessed February 2017]

Ahmad AS, Ormiston-Smith N, Sasieni PD. Trends in the lifetime risk of developing cancer in Great Britain: Comparison of risk for those born in 1930 to 1960. Br J Cancer 2015; 112: 943-947
Cole, A, Lundqvist A, Lorgelly P, et al. Office of Health Economic and Swedish Institute for Health Economics, 2016. Improving Efficiency and Resource Allocation in Future Cancer Care. Available at: https://www.ohe.org/publications/improving-efficiency-and-resource-allocation-future-cancer-care (Accessed: September 2016).

iii Independent Cancer Taskforce, 2015. Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes a Strategy for England 2015-2020, available here: [Accessed February 2017]

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“It was like a religious ceremony”: What happened at Big Ben’s final bong?

Both inside and outside Parliament, people gathered to hear the clock’s final midday chime before undergoing repairs.

“It’s just hacks everywhere,” a photographer sighs, jamming his lens through a gap in Parliament’s railings to try and get a closer look.

New Palace Yard, Parliament’s courtyard directly below Big Ben, is filling with amused-looking journalists, waiting for the MPs who have promised to hold a “silent vigil”, heads bowed, to mark Big Ben’s final chime before four years of silence while the tower’s repaired.

About four of them turn up. Two by accident.

It’s five minutes to twelve. Tourists are gathering outside Westminster Tube, as tourists do best. A bigger crowd fills Parliament Square. More people than expected congregate outside, even if it’s the opposite within the Palace. The world and his phone are gazing up at the sad, resigned clock face.


“It’s quite controversial, isn’t it?” one elderly woman in an anorak asks her friend. They shrug and walk off. “Do you know what is this?” an Italian tourist politely asks the tiny press pack, gesturing to the courtyard. No one replies. It’s a good question.

“This is the last time,” says another tourist, elated, Instagram-poised.

“DING DONG DING DONG,” the old bell begins.

Heads down, phones up.


It finishes the on-the-hour tune for the last time, and then gives its much-anticipated resignation statement:

“BONG. BONG. BONG. BONG. BONG. BONG. BONG. BONG. BONG. BONG. BONG. BONG.”

Applause, cheers, and even some tears.


But while the silly-seasoned journalists snigger, the crowd is enthusiastic.

“It’s quite emotional,” says David Lear, a 52-year-old carer from Essex, who came up to London today with his work and waited 45 minutes beneath Big Ben to hear it chime.

He feels “very, very sad” that the bell is falling silent, and finds the MPs’ vigil respectful. “I think lots of people feel quite strongly about it. I don’t know why they’re doing it. During the war it carries on, and then they turn it off for a health and safety reason.”

“I don’t know why they can’t have some speakers half way down it and just play the chime,” he adds. “So many tourists come especially to listen to the chime, they gather round here, getting ready for it to go – and they’re going to switch it off. It’s crazy.”

Indeed, most of the surrounding crowd appears to be made up of tourists. “I think that it was gorgeous, because I’ve never heard him,” smiles Cora, an 18-year-old German tourist. “It was a great experience.”

An Australian couple in their sixties called Jane and Gary are visiting London for a week. “It was like a religious ceremony, everybody went quiet,” laughs Gary. “I hope they don’t forget where they put the keys to start it again in four years’ time.”

“When we first got here, the first thing we did was come to see it,” adds Jane, who is also positive about the MPs who turned up to watch. “I think it’s good they showed a bit of respect. Because they don’t usually show much respect, do they?”

And, as MPs mouthing off about Big Ben are challenged on their contrasting reactions to Grenfell, that is precisely the problem with an otherwise innocent show of sentimentality.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.