In a report published this week, Cancer Research UK says that as a direct result of staff shortages, at least 115,000 cancer patients annually in England are diagnosed too late to give them the best chance of survival.
This means that nearly half of all cancers diagnosed with a known stage are at stage 3 or 4. And of these, around 67,000 people are diagnosed at stage 4, leaving them with fewer treatment options and less chance of surviving.
“It’s unacceptable that so many people are diagnosed late," said Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK (CR-UK) director of policy. "Although survival has improved, it’s not happening fast enough. More referrals to hospital means we urgently need more staff.
"The government’s inaction on staff shortages is crippling the NHS, failing cancer patients and the staff who are working tirelessly to diagnose and treat them.”
Emma continued, “By 2035, one person every minute will be diagnosed with cancer but there’s no plan to increase the number of NHS staff to cope with demand now or the growing numbers in the future. Saving lives from cancer needs to be top of the agenda for the new government and it must commit to investing in vital NHS staff now to ensure no one dies from cancer unnecessarily.”
According to research commissioned by CR-UK, it is estimated that by 2027 the NHS will need:
• 2000 additional therapeutic radiographers (a growth of 80% from current levels)
• More than 1500 extra oncologists
• An additional 1700 radiologists
The report also states that although researchers "had been unable to estimate the scale of increase needed for diagnostic radiographers, this staff group will clearly be crucial to the early diagnosis of cancer in the future and it is therefore likely that they will also have to grow significantly in numbers to meet demand."