Calman-Hine was the first comprehensive cancer report to be produced in the UK, and set out principles for cancer care and the clinical organisation for service delivery. It advocated a change from a generalist model (eg, care given by general surgeons and physicians) that was supported by specialists to a fully specialist service. The process of policy development was innovative and the report was accepted widely throughout the UK. However, implementation, which began at a time of organisational change across the UK National Health Service (NHS), was not addressed sufficiently in the years immediately after publication. Consequently, change was more variable both geographically and within a single location and took longer than necessary. Evidence from research, routine data, and external assessments suggest that the policy was eventually successful and a worthwhile change. Well thought out and sustained mechanisms for policy implementation are as crucial as well-designed policies, and government health reforms can conflict with specific policies for quality improvement.