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Cancer workforce plan

Cancer workforce plan

Cancer care is one of the Five Year Forward View’s key priorities - focussing on prevention, earlier diagnosis, better treatment and living with cancer. Having access to more skilled staff in the right areas will be key to delivering on that strategy.

One-in-three of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime. Fortunately, half of those with cancer will now live for at least ten years, whereas 40 years ago the average survival was only one year. But cancer survival is below the European average, especially for people aged over 75, and especially when measured at one year after diagnosis compared with five years.

The Cancer Workforce Plan has been developed in partnership with NHS England and our Five Year Forward partners. It sets out a delivery plan that ensures the NHS in England has the right numbers of skilled staff to provide high quality care and services to cancer patients at each stage in their care – from accurate early diagnosis and treatment to living with cancer and end of life care.

The plan responds to the independent Cancer Taskforce which set out a strategy to radically improve diagnosis, longer term quality of life and experiences for people who are affected by cancer in England.


Cancer workforce plan – phase 1 progress update

An update on progress towards meeting the ambitions described in our Cancer Workforce Plan is now available to download.

In it we set out the key developments to increase supply through speciality training, to create new routes into the cancer workforce and to upskill existing staff.

The highlights

  • The system has seen an increase in staff in post across the key professions over and above the ambitions articulated in the Cancer Workforce Plan.
  • Growth in the professions has been reported as an increase of 745 FTE between 2016-17 and 833 between 2017-18 (a total growth of 1,578 between 2016-18).
  • Between March 2017 and March 2018, the observed staff in post growth was higher than the combined 'do-nothing' projected increase and the WTE increase ambitions from local actions for the same period.
  • Good progress has been made through a range of initiatives including:
    • Postgraduate medical education and training
    • Increasing capacity through international recruitment
    • Upskilling to increase workforce capacity to support earlier diagnosis of cancer 
    • Creating new routes into the cancer workforce aka Level 4 apprenticeship in breast imaging, Level 6 in diagnostic radiography and therapeutic radiography
    • Genomics
    • Breast Imaging – through the National Breast Imaging Academy.

Strategic Framework for Cancer Workforce (phase 2)

In July 2018, the NHS was tasked with developing the Long Term Plan (LTP) setting out how the service intends to deliver major improvements in key areas including transforming cancer care. This was followed by a multi-year workforce plan – the interim People Plan.

In order to inform the LTP, we concluded the work on Phase two and submitted it as an interim working paper to NHS England. The LTP has since been published, as has the Interim People Plan, which effectively incorporates ‘phase 2’ of the cancer strategy.
The world has moved on since we produced the working paper on phase 2, much of the analysis is now out of date, but many of the questions it raises about long term demand and supply and the impact of digital technologies remain pertinent. In the interests of transparency, we are making this working paper available, and to fulfil our duty to take a longer view, beyond the timescales of current planning cycles.