Our open letter to the chancellor

With 1 in 2 of us being diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime, having a fully funded cancer workforce is more crucial than ever before. The pandemic has exposed the issues in staff capacity; investment is needed now if we are to meet the ambitions set out in the NHS Long-Term Plan of diagnosing 75% of cancer at stage I or II by 2028.

We must ensure that people living with cancer get the support they need and deserve, both now and into the future.

The APPG on Cancer and its stakeholders are asking Parliamentarians to sign our letter to the Chancellor calling on the Government to urgently invest in our vital cancer workforce.

Read the full letter

Dear Chancellor,

We are writing to you as a coalition of charities, patient advocacy groups, MPs, Peers and All-Party Parliamentary Group Chairs ahead of the Spending Review.

We are calling on the Government to urgently invest in our vital cancer workforce - for the 1 in 2 of us who will get cancer.¹

Cancer services are slowly recovering from the devastating blow caused by Covid-19, but we had the worst 62-day cancer waiting times on record even before the pandemic. The pandemic has not only laid bare the terrible strain the cancer workforce has been under for years but has driven cancer services to a crisis point. The future of the workforce is now the most significant threat facing the NHS today – this needs to change. There is a clear need for a comprehensive, multi-year funding settlement to ensure we have a sustainable NHS cancer workforce for the future to meet the growing demand.

We can’t afford to ignore this any longer. Significant numbers of nurses are reportedly leaving or planning to leave the NHS following the pandemic, and one in four NHS staff in England say they are more likely to leave their jobs than a year ago². In addition, long-standing unfilled vacancies and high staff absence and sickness levels continue to constrain cancer services.

It is essential that the Government guarantees a comprehensive package of training and targeted investment to develop the next generation of the cancer workforce. This investment is needed to meet their ambition set in the NHS Long-Term Plan of diagnosing 75% of cancer at stage I or II by 2028 and ensure that people living with cancer get the support they need and deserve now and in the future.

Therefore, we are calling upon you to use the Spending Review to ensure the Government invests in the cancer workforce, including specialist nurses and diagnostic staff. We want cancer services to build back better so the UK can become world-leading in cancer survival and ensure that the workforce has the capacity to diagnose, treat and care for people with cancer now and meet the cancer challenges of the future.

Yours sincerely,


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¹ Ahmad AS, Ormiston-Smith N, Sasieni PD. Trends in the lifetime risk of developing cancer in Great Britain: comparison of risk for those born from 1930 to 1960. Br J Cancer. 2015 Mar 3;112(5):943-7. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.606. Epub 2015 Feb 3. PMID: 25647015; PMCID: PMC4453943.
² Recover, Reward, Renew: A Post-Pandemic Plan for the Healthcare Workforce, Institute for Public Policy Research, March 2021.
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