Beating bowel cancer together

Our response to Cancer Research UK’s latest report

Monday 12 November 2018

Cancer Research UK’s report ‘Securing a cancer workforce for the best outcomes’ published today (Monday 12 November) highlights the severity of current cancer workforce deficits that are currently the biggest barrier to achieving world-class care for bowel cancer patients.

Cancer Research UK estimate that by 2027, a number of key healthcare professionals crucial to cancer diagnosis and treatment will need to grow drastically just to meet the needs of growing demand, Specific areas includes (for 2027):

  • the number of radiologists may need to grow by 70%
  • the number of gastroenterologists by 45%;
  • the number of therapeutic radiographers by 80%
  • and the number of oncologists may have to triple

Asha Kaur, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Bowel Cancer UK said:

“The estimated staff numbers needed to diagnose cancer in the future is particularly concerning. We know early diagnosis is crucial to improving survival rates for bowel cancer. In fact nearly everyone will survive if diagnosed at the earliest stage. The welcomed introduction of a new test, FIT, into the screening programme and the lowering of the screening age to 50 is our best opportunity to realise the Government ambition of 75% of cancers diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 by 2028 but without the right number of NHS staff this will remain a pipe dream.

That’s why, as part of our End the Capacity Crisis campaign, we’ve been calling for a fully funded long-term action plan to tackle NHS staff shortages within diagnostic services for bowel cancer. This plan must be comprehensive and set out clear recommendations that address current workforce shortages and allow for future growth.

To support the delivery and implementation of this plan Health Education England, who are responsible for ensuring the NHS has the right numbers of staff trained, must be allocated additional funding. Unfortunately the Government missed a vital opportunity to allocate this funding in the Autumn Budget, ahead of the publication of the 10 Year Plan. While the extra £20.5bn is confirmed for the NHS until 2023/24 this does not cover other parts of the wider health budget including staff training. We hope the Government takes heed of these latest findings and commits to the necessary funding in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. Without this, hospitals and our NHS staff will continue to struggle to meet the increasing demand.”

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