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Lily Walton
November 10, 2022

NHS is 'chronically short staffed' says cancer expert

Cancer patients are facing increased waiting times which could be having an impact on how likely they are to survive the disease, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

The number of patients waiting more than the 62-day target for cancer therapy is now more than 67,000 across England, Northern Ireland and Scotland which is twice as many as in 2017-18.

Steve McIntosh, of Macmillan Cancer Support said: "The NHS doesn't have the staff it needs to diagnose cancer, to deliver surgery and treatment, to provide care, support and rehabilitation."

He said that the delays were "traumatic" for those waiting and described the NHS as "chronically short staffed".

There is a lack of staff at all levels of the NHS which is having a knock-on effect at every stage of cancer treatment.

The Royal College of Radiologists reports there is a 17% shortfall in cancer doctors who oversee chemotherapy and radiotherapy in the UK.

Tom Roques, of the Royal College, said: "Staff is the key to fixing this. We desperately need a fully-funded workforce plan for the NHS that will recruit and retain the right numbers of staff that will be able to treat patients as quickly as we would all like."

Vacancies across NHS England are at a record high with around 10% of posts currently empty and the situation is getting rapidly worse. In March 2021 there were 76,082 vacancies but 18 months later this had risen to a staggering 132,139 vacancies, including 46,000 empty nursing posts.

The situation will become bleaker still when members of the Royal College of Nursing union will go on strike in the run-up to Christmas.

Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “The government’s failure to fully fund this year’s below-inflation pay awards, alongside ongoing concerns over punitive pension taxation for senior staff, will make it even harder to recruit and keep the health workers we so desperately need, which in turn will hugely impact on patients."

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