Currently 1.8 million people in England are living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis, and good quality health and social care support is more important than ever. This project is exploring the current patterns of health and social care use by cancer patients in order to inform future service development and provision.

This research project, which has been commissioned by the Department of Health, aims to find out how often and how intensively cancer patients use local authority funded social care and the NHS. This information is currently not available elsewhere and will be used to inform the development of services in this area.

We will find out how cancer patients’ use of health and social care changes following diagnosis with cancer, and compare their patterns of use to what would be expected for other patients of the same age and sex.

This study will be the first of its kind to find out how much local authority health and social care support cancer patients need.

In order to do this, we will work with local authorities and their health partners to extract a series of administrative datasets about the use of services in their areas. By linking these data sets together at the person level, we can build up a picture of health and social care use over a period of several years for individual patients. To protect patient confidentiality, we will only receive pseudonymous data which means that we will not be able to identify any of the patients concerned.

The key for this project will be to link these records to cancer registry information so that we can identify people in these areas who have been diagnosed with cancer. This will mean we can compare cancer patients’ use of health and social care from the point of initial diagnosis and compare this to other groups of the same age and sex. This is the first time that we have linked administrative data sets to the clinical audit databases and, if successful, may produce a model that can be used for future research.

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