Macmillan Cancer Relief is to expand its public affairs and campaigning activity with the launch of a research department and a Macmillan Observatory to start monitoring long-term trends in cancer healthcare.
The new departments will launch at the beginning of 2003 and intend to give Macmillan the capacity to take a more proactive role in lobbying Parliament and local MPs to try and push through changes in the sector.
Peter Cardy, chief executive at Macmillan, said that the move was a "natural development" after the Government published its cancer plan in September 2000.
"This Government has made quite specific promises about targets for cancer healthcare and we're developing the facility to try and hold them to account," he said. "The key is developing a long-term view of what cancer services should look like in 10 years' time and start planning how we can make this vision a reality."
The charity also hopes that by providing the Government with independent research projects, it will strengthen and develop its relationships with ministers and healthcare departments.
A Macmillan Observatory will start conducting long-term modelling of major trends within healthcare such as developing changes in the UK workforce.
It will also deal with the long-term implications of issues such as the ongoing battle over a new contract for medical consultants.
"The development of our campaigning role and the development of an internal research facility is fundamental to our core objectives," said Cardy.
"We can say with certainty that the amount of people with cancer is growing and we have to put mechanisms in place to accurately monitor this.
"I don't think we'll ever see Macmillan out there waving placards, but there are plenty of other ways to communicate your message and we intend to thoroughly explore all avenues," he said.
Macmillan also plans to develop its messages to other healthcare areas such as residential care and the private health sector. It will also foster closer relations with the pharmaceutical industry to develop an idea of how the charity can work alongside drugs organisations over the next 10 years.
Part of this process will also be to encourage its supporters to take a more active campaigning role and the charity wants people to start to use the charity as a channel to communicate with the Government and health authorities.
"A large proportion of our supporters are already highly motivated and active in campaigning for change, as many have experienced dissatisfaction with existing cancer services," said Cardy.