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NHS needs 2,500 more cancer nurses, Macmillan says

Cancer nurse staffing in England ‘needs a fully funded plan to get services back on track’
Picture shows a cancer nurse specialist examining a patient

Cancer nurse staffing in England needs a fully funded plan to get services back on track

The cancer nurse specialist (CNS) workforce needs to almost double to maintain standards of care, according to a leading charity.

Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that in England a further 2,500 CNSs are needed in addition to the 3,000 already working. It is calling on the government to increase their number to cover the shortage.

Investment in staffing needed to get cancer services back on track

The charity says nurses would have to work nearly twice their contracted hours to ensure people living with cancer receive an acceptable standard of care.

Macmillan chief executive Lynda Thomas said the situation is likely to have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government must take control of the spiralling NHS staffing crisis

Cancer nurse staffing in England ‘needs a fully funded plan to get services back on track’

Picture shows a cancer nurse specialist examining a patient
Picture: Tim George

The cancer nurse specialist (CNS) workforce needs to almost double to maintain standards of care, according to a leading charity.

Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that in England a further 2,500 CNSs are needed in addition to the 3,000 already working. It is calling on the government to increase their number to cover the shortage.

Investment in staffing needed to get cancer services back on track

The charity says nurses would have to work nearly twice their contracted hours to ensure people living with cancer receive an acceptable standard of care.

Macmillan chief executive Lynda Thomas said the situation is likely to have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘The government must take control of the spiralling NHS staffing crisis to ensure nurses get the support they need now more than ever, after the extreme pressure that’s been placed on them during the pandemic,’ Ms Thomas said.

‘It’s critical that the upcoming spending review provides the investment needed for a fully funded and credible plan to address specialist cancer nurse vacancies and to grow and sustain the workforce.’

‘We urgently need to see cancer services back on track. We cannot let cancer become the “forgotten C” during the coronavirus pandemic.’

‘Cancer diagnosis and treatment remain an absolute priority’

In calculating its findings the charity worked with 50 CNSsm mapping out the time they spent caring for patients with cancer. The results were compared with the amount of time other nurses typically spend with patients.

The time difference led the charity to estimate that the 3,000 CNSs already working are not enough to support patients.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the government is investing to increase the workforce in England by 50,000 nurses by the end of the current Westminster parliament in 2024.

The spokesperson said: ‘Cancer diagnosis and treatment remain an absolute priority – some Nightingale hospitals have been turned into cancer diagnostic centres and latest figures from June show that more than 93% of cancer patients receive treatment within 31 days of a decision to treat.’


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