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Our mission priorities: answering 4 key questions

26th Apr 2022

An update on the work around our organisational strategy.

If our vision is Blood Cancer UK’s destination, then the mission is what we need to do to get there.

As our Chief Executive outlined in her recent blog, we have defined our vision as this.

Our vision

We are focused on saving lives and bringing forward the day when no one dies of blood cancer, or their blood cancer treatment.

By this, we mean every case of blood cancer will either be prevented, cured, or treated in a way that does not reduce someone's life expectancy.

We believe this day is within reach and if we harness the strength of the blood cancer community we will get there sooner.

Our drive to beat blood cancer is relentless. And we think that Blood Cancer UK can play a very specific role in bringing this day closer. But our vision cannot be achieved alone. There will be many others that will play their part: Government, the NHS, clinicians, researchers and other charities.

So we need to make some choices about what we do and what we don’t do. We know that we can’t do everything that we would like to and meet all the needs of everybody affected by blood cancer.

This is what we looked at during this phase of developing our strategy.

The questions that we set out to answer were:

  1. What are the most important priorities to focus on that will get us towards our vision as soon as possible?
  2. How do we prioritise and make choices? Now, and in the future?
  3. What should we not do?
  4. How do we make sure that we support and grow our community?

How we did it

To answer these questions, we put together a team made up of two people affected by blood cancer and others with experience from across Blood Cancer UK.

We looked at what the vision meant and what we need to get there.

We reviewed other organisations’ mission statements and activities in blood cancer research and care, to better understand where there is duplication and the specific role that Blood Cancer UK can play.

From this, we identified areas we did not think would take us closer to our vision. This was really challenging and something that we will keep under review as our thinking develops further in our strategy process.

Then we set out a process to help us prioritise and make decisions about what was most important for Blood Cancer UK to focus on. At all times we kept our vision in mind, and those key criteria to eradicate, cure or treat blood cancer.

What we found

We identified five priorities for Blood Cancer UK for the next five years:

1) Making sure that new treatments are available, so that as many people with blood cancer as possible are cured or do not die from their blood cancer or treatment

There are some blood cancers which cannot be cured, and others where outcomes are currently poor. Some people with blood cancer also die earlier as a result of their blood cancer treatment.

We believe that through funding research directly and influencing blood cancer research and treatments, we can ensure that more treatments are made available to more patients with blood cancer. Ways to achieve this could include prioritising funding to blood cancers where treatments with successful outcomes are not currently available. We are looking further at what we prioritise and how in the next stage of the strategy.

2) Accelerating the progress of research in areas where we feel this has been too slow

There are some blood cancers that could in time be prevented, or where early detection could improve outcomes. There are other blood cancers or scenarios where there are currently limited treatment options available for patients, such as when people relapse.

We think that through funding research directly, in particular by supporting researchers to take risks, build new collaborations or innovate, there is potential to speed up progress towards our vision. This could include programmes targeted at specific issues such as prevention, early detection or relapse. We will also look to identify the most important issues we could focus on in the next stage of the strategy.

3) Reducing inequalities in blood cancer treatment so we can ensure everyone with blood cancer in the UK has access to the best treatments and care

Currently, not everyone with blood cancer can expect the same high quality care and best treatment. There are disparities in outcomes between the UK and other countries, between blood cancer and other cancers, between different regions and nations within the UK, and between different groups, for example, people from different ethnic backgrounds.

We think that through investing in data and analysis that identifies inequalities and global best practice in treatment and care, and crucially the reasons behind these inequalities, we can work with policy makers, clinicians and people with blood cancer to address the gap, over the next five years.

4) Improving access to clinical trials so that as many patients as possible can benefit from novel therapies and improved survival

Clinical trials are important in the development of new treatments for blood cancers. By participating in trials, patients will have access to novel therapies and a high standard of care. We know that currently access to trials is not equitable and want to ensure that more patients are able to participate, wherever they live and whoever they are.

We think that through continuing to develop our trials navigation service, we can reach more people and support them to access a trial that is right for them. There may also be opportunities for us to target funding or work in partnership with the pharmaceutical industry, who already fund most blood cancer trials.

5) Developing a community of knowledgeable and empowered people affected by blood cancer, enabling them to connect to each other and to us

Our community of people affected by blood cancer is part of our organisational DNA. Working with that community helps us to ensure that everything we do takes us closer to our vision and  is motivated by what matters most to people living with blood cancer and those around them. The support and advice, both from us, and each other, can be lifesaving – as we have seen with the role that we have played during the Covid pandemic.

But we know that at the moment we do not meet the needs of everyone affected by blood cancer and that we can do more to develop and deliver services which meet areas of greatest need. We might reach people directly, or indirectly, for example, via healthcare professionals who treat people with blood cancer.

In the next phase of the development of our strategy we will look at how we can grow and support our community in more detail, and identifying specific areas of focus.

What people affected by blood cancer told us about our mission priorities

We asked our community of people affected by blood cancer for their views on the mission priorities set out here. Most people who answered the survey felt that the most important area for us to focus on is making sure that treatments are available that either cure or treat someone's blood cancer in a way which means they can live to a normal life expectancy.

People responding to the survey also supported the additional areas outlined above – accelerating research progress, reducing inequalities and improving access to clinical trials. But we also heard a need for more research into treatments with fewer side effects for people living with their blood cancer.

Side effects are a huge issue for many people living with blood cancer, and we want our research funding to ensure that more effective treatments are available for more people with blood cancer that do not have toxic effects and allow people to live longer with their blood cancer. We also want to ensure that more treatments are available for people who currently might be resistant to effective treatments or for patients who relapse.

In the future, this could mean that we would not fund research that specifically aims to reduce side effects that are not life limiting, where treatments provide a cure or allow someone to live a normal life expectancy with their blood cancer.

We’ll be continuing to talk more about this through the strategy process so if you have thoughts on this please do let us know.

What are we going to do next?

This blog reflects our thinking as it is today, and it will evolve as we get further along in the process.

Now, we’re looking in more detail at what some of the research priorities could be for us over the next five years, as well as how we grow and support our community of people affected by blood cancer.

If you have thoughts about any of the above questions (or you’d like to be more involved), please email our strategy team.

And if you have any questions, feedback or would like to be involved further please email our strategy team.

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