In December 2022 NHSE England’s Cancer Programme required support to design and deliver an approach to help Cancer Alliances. Their focus was to understand the key ingredients to success and to identify their collective development needs. The TU were commissioned to co-produce a self-assessment framework to deliver these requirements and enable the identification of appropriate development support to help Cancer Alliances to better achieve their objectives.
There are 21 Cancer Alliances across England, with each of them being unique in their size, structure and how they operate. Previous engagement with Cancer Alliances identified the need to create an assessment framework to enable cancer alliances to:
- Develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which Cancer Alliances operate and the strength of their relationships, and what aspects of their operating model are most closely associated with successful delivery.
- Support Cancer Alliances to review and evaluate their own capabilities, strengths and development areas using a defined framework.
- Ascertain the priority development needs of individual Cancer Alliances, and how Cancer Alliances, NHS Regional Teams and the NHS Cancer Programme can address these.
We mobilised a programme of engagement that involved all 21 Cancer Alliances, 6 Regions and NHSE Cancer Programme Leads. Through a combination of semi-structured interviews and feedback events we initially focused on developing a baseline picture of “What makes an effective Cancer Alliance?”. The baseline output covered a range of 8 themes and provided for each:
- A statement of “what does good look like?”
- A list of behaviours that would demonstrate this called “Conditions of Success” – the ‘what’
- A list of features that would enable these behaviours called “Enabling Factors” – the ‘how’
Using the “What makes an Effective Cancer Alliance?” baseline, we worked in collaboration with Cancer Alliances. The aim was to develop a self-assessment framework and sense-checked this with regional colleagues.
The Self-Assessment Framework was rolled out across all 21 Cancer Alliances using a survey-based tool, with all Cancer Alliances completing the assessment, in part as a consequence of their strong involvement in the design of the framework. Additionally, the semi-structured nature of the engagement also promoted a good atmosphere for sharing and listening.
We analysed the findings and produced a suite of reports that presented each individual Cancer Alliance’s position as well as an overall view of the national position. Furthermore, through the use of the Self-Assessment Framework, national and regional teams, as well as the Cancer Alliances themselves, are better able to understand the development needs of the different Cancer Alliances.
The NHS England Cancer Programme team are now exploring support packages for the core themes and working with regional colleagues. Their aim is to identify common barriers to achieving objectives across their local alliances.