7 September 2017
Bigger workloads, increasingly complex patient needs, and vacancies in key roles are creating ‘unrelenting pressure’ on cancer care workforce, new report warns
Current workforce pressures are affecting the level of care being delivered to cancer patients, according to a new report From the Frontline by Macmillan Cancer Support.
A survey undertaken by nfpSynergy for Macmillan of over 250 GPs and nurses working in primary care across the UK, found that over half (52%) are not confident the NHS workforce is able to provide adequate care to cancer patients, given the current pressures it faces.[i]
The report also found that:
- Over a third (37%) of GPs and nurses surveyed for Macmillan by nfpSynergy said that existing workforce pressures meant that some cancer patients are attending A&E because they can’t get help elsewhere.[ii]
- 44% of those GPs and nurses surveyed said pressures meant cancer patients were not always being treated as early as they should be.
- Nearly a third (31%) also reported that cancer patients do not have the support they need to regain a good quality of life after treatment because of pressures affecting the NHS workforce.
Additional research featured in the report which surveyed over 50 Macmillan GPs, looked at issues that were putting pressure on the NHS workforce. The issues most commonly reported by Macmillan GPs were increasing numbers of patients, gaps and vacancies in key roles, and the increasing complexity of cancer.[iii] Nearly 9,000 Macmillan professionals work in a wide variety of roles and services, employed by a range of partner organisations.[iv]
The findings come against the backdrop of figures released by NHS Digital which showed that vacancies in the health service rose by 15.8% over the past year[v], while the Nursing and Midwifery Council recently reported that more nurses and midwives are leaving the NHS than joining it.[vi]
One GP surveyed for the report referenced ‘extreme workload pressure’ and not having enough time to deal with complex patients. He also mentioned: “fear of missing an early diagnosis because of these extreme pressures.”
The charity is urging government across the UK to address these significant pressures and set out an ambitious vision to ensure that the NHS cancer workforce is equipped to meet future challenges.
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support says:
“The story of NHS cancer care in 2017 so far is one of unrelenting pressure, and it is now clear that many hardworking doctors and nurses are seriously concerned about how the health service is coping with the pressures placed on it. Attending A&E because they can’t get help elsewhere or waiting too long for treatment should be a rare event for someone being treated for cancer, but this research suggests this could be becoming worryingly routine.
“It is great news that more people are surviving cancer than ever before, but there is no escaping the fact that demand for cancer services will only increase as more people are diagnosed in the years to come. The NHS aspires to deliver world class cancer care for patients, but this will not happen without enough staff with the right skills. There is an urgent need to address these pressures and set out a renewed vision for the cancer workforce to ensure it is equipped to meet future challenges.’
Deborah Grigg, 48 from South Oxfordshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.
“Two weeks after my last radiotherapy session I developed a high temperature, flu-like symptoms and my skin split in the worst affected area. After 48 hours I called the radiotherapy department, who told me to contact my GP, but I was unable to get an appointment. I managed to speak to him over the phone and he prescribed antibiotics. My temperature remained high so I went to A&E where I was admitted. I was in hospital for six days with septicaemia.”
To read From the Frontline please click here
For further information, please contact:
Patrick Pringle, Senior Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 840 4891 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
About Macmillan Cancer Support
There are 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK. One in two people are likely to get cancer in their lifetimes. Cancer can affect everything, including a person’s body, relationships and finances.
Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, emotional and personal support to people affected by cancer every year. The charity is there to support people during treatment, help with work and money worries, and listen when people need to talk about their feelings.
Macmillan receives no government funding and relies on generous donations from the public. People up and down the country show their support for Macmillan – from hosting or attending a World’s Biggest Coffee Morning to running a marathon or giving up alcohol – so the charity can help more and more people affected by cancer every year.
Life with cancer is still your life and Macmillan is there to help you live it.
[i] Macmillan and nfpSynergy survey of 257 Primary Care Professionals inform across the UK conducted during May and June 2017. Source: Primary Healthcare Monitor, 17 May 2017. Participants were asked to fill out an online survey, which included a question on their confidence in the ability of the NHS to continue providing adequate care, and a question on the impact of workforce pressures on patients.
[iii] Survey of 51 Macmillan GPs between 3 June 2017 and 24 July 2017. Macmillan GPs are practising GPs who devote an average of a day per week to work with Macmillan and primary healthcare teams to make a recognisable improvement to cancer care across the UK. Of the 52 responses, 41 were from England, 2 were from Northern Ireland, 2 were from Scotland and 4 were from Wales.
[iv] Macmillan analysis of number of Macmillan professionals working in the UK. https://www.macmillan.org.uk/about-us/health-professionals/support-for-your-role/understanding-your-macmillan-role.html
[v] NHS Digital. NHS Vacancy Statistics England, February 2015 - March 2017, Provisional Experimental Statistics. http://www.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB30033 (accessed August 2017). In March 2017 there were 30,613 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents published in England, compared with 26,424 in 2016.
[vi] Nursing and Midwifery Council. The NMC register: 2012/13 - 2016/17. https://www.nmc.org.uk/globalassets/sitedocuments/other-publications/nmc-register-2013-2017.pdf (accessed August 2017). The NMC’s figures show a reduction in the number of registered nurses and midwives of 5,047 people between March 2016 and May 2017.