What is NATCAN?
The National Cancer Audit Collaborating Centre was established as a new national centre of excellence in October 2022 with the aim of strengthening NHS cancer services by looking at treatments and patient outcomes across the country.
The Centre was commissioned for an initial three-year period by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, on behalf of NHS England and the Welsh government.
Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer, NHS England
It is based within the Clinical Effectiveness Unit (CEU), an academic partnership between the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
NATCAN will bring national cancer audits together in one place, enabling us to share best practice and clinical excellence as part of the overall strategy of improving healthcare. Each audit will develop explicit goals aiming to improve cancer outcomes and the experience of patients.
NATCAN focuses on the three Rs, ensuring that all its activities are:
- clinically relevant (asking the right questions as a result of close collaboration between clinical and academic experts)
- methodologically robust (using the best epidemiological and statistical approaches to carry out fair comparisons between hospitals)
- technically rigorous (making sure data science is put to the best use, in order to drive quality improvement)
Ajay Aggarwal, Clinical Director at NATCAN
Which audits are being done?
NATCAN will deliver six new cancer audits covering:
primary and metastatic breast cancer (two separate but closely connected audits)
The results from these audits will be published from 2024 onwards – both annually and quarterly.
The CEU was already the sole provider of national cancer audits in the English and Welsh NHS with audits covering:
oesophago-gastric cancer (since 2006)
bowel cancer (since 2010)
prostate cancer (since 2013)
breast cancer in older patients (since 2016)
lung cancer (since 2022)
The National Bowel Cancer Audit and the National Oesophago-Gastric Cancer Audit moved into NATCAN in June 2023. The National Prostate Cancer Audit moved into the centre in July 2023 followed by the National Lung Cancer Audit in October 2023.
Neil Mortensen, Chair of NATCAN Board, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (2020 to 2023)
These audits have helped provide a wider understanding of cancer treatments across England and Wales, and improve outcomes for patients. They have also promoted improvement initiatives within NHS cancer services and identified areas of best practice.
What are NATCAN’s aims?
NHS England and the Welsh Government are funding the six new national cancer audits, with £5.4m over the first three years. The aim of these audits is to:
- Provide cancer services with regular and timely evidence of where patterns of care in England and Wales may vary.
- Support NHS services to increase the consistency of access to treatments, and help guide quality improvement initiatives.
- Stimulate improvements in cancer detection, treatment and outcomes for patients, including survival rates.
Julie Nossiter, Director of Operations at NATCAN
How will professionals and patients get involved?
NATCAN will collaborate closely with professional groups and patient charities. Patient forums will be established to ensure that patients inform the quality improvement goals of each audit.
The audits are committed to engaging widely with charities and experts involved in cancer care, and to delivering for patients and their families, as well as healthcare professionals and the health service.
Everyone involved in cancer treatment knows it is complex. There may be multiple treatment options, including combinations of treatments, for different types of cancer. A patient’s treatment plan needs to take into account the stage of their cancer and how they will respond to treatment.
A key aim for each audit is to ensure the information produced for cancer services recognises these differences, and supports hospitals to focus on specific parts of the care pathway.
Last updated: 30 November 2023, 11:37am