Chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, has unveiled the first fraction of hospitals that will benefit from a major national investment in NHS radiotherapy machines.

Fifteen hospitals in areas where there is greatest need have now been selected to receive new LINAC linear (accelerator) machines, as part of a £130-million investment in radiotherapy technology upgrades.

Recent advances in radiotherapy using the latest imaging and computing technology have helped target radiation doses at cancer cells more precisely, improving both treatment outcomes and reducing NHS costs. NHS England says it wants patients to get access to the latest leading edge technology regardless of where they live.

Also announced was funding of £200 million over two years to boost local cancer services, essentially by encouraging local areas to find new and innovative ways to diagnose cancer earlier and improve the care of patients.

For instance, cancer alliances are being asked to bid for a share of the fund to use within three priority areas: early diagnosis, care during and after treatment and after cancer treatment, including a more personalised approach to follow-up.

Speaking at the Britain Against Cancer conference in London, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: "Across the country, the NHS is now making great strides in upgrading modern cancer radiotherapy equipment and ensuring faster access to the most promising new cancer drugs".

"Because the quality of NHS cancer care has improved so much over the past year, an extra two thousand families will be able to celebrate the Christmas holiday with a loved one who has successfully survived cancer. It's an enormous tribute to dedicated nurses, doctors, scientists and patients organisations that we are on track to save 30,000 more lives a year from cancer."

Earlier this year the organisation said it would stream £15 million into better cancer detection.

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