Severe workforce shortages must be addressed for NHS to meet cancer commitments
02 September 2019
- In just one year, around 115,000 cancer patients in England are diagnosed too late to give them the best chance of survival, according to new calculations from Cancer Research UK.
- They said that although there are lots of things that can influence when someone is diagnosed, workforce shortages are a large contributor as there is a desperate shortage of NHS medical staff trained to carry out tests that diagnose cancer.
- Government made a pledge to improve the number of people diagnosed with early stage by 2028, but to reach this target Cancer Research UK has calculated an extra 100,000 patients must be diagnosed early each year.
- They said NHS staff are working tirelessly to offer the best care possible, and the NHS is implementing important new initiatives to address late diagnosis and improve staff efficiency.
Responding to new figures from Cancer Research UK on cancer diagnosis and NHS workforce shortages, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:
“We know that the demand for NHS cancer services will continue to rise, so we need to have the specialist workforce, equipment and treatments in place to meet this challenge.
“Delays for patients starting treatment can have a real and serious impact on the treatment options available to them and how effective it is.
“Trusts are working hard to meet the growing number of patients referred under the two-week target. But an increase in demand for diagnostic tests, combined with workforce shortages and an inability to invest in new scanners and machines are all contributing to delays for patients.
But an increase in demand for diagnostic tests, combined with workforce shortages and an inability to invest in new scanners and machines are all contributing to delays for patients.Deputy Chief Executive
“Workforce shortages are severe. It leaves trusts struggling to ensure they have the range of specialists needed to carry out tests and report the outcomes within the expected timeframe. The shortages of endoscopists and radiologists are particularly serious.
“The NHS is committed to improving cancer care and outcomes as part of its long term plan. But to do this, we must see investment in education and training to make sure we are safeguarding these skills within the service. We also need to see more capital investment in the equipment needed to both diagnose and treat cancer.”