Stop cancer becoming the Forgotten 'C'

UK cancer care services are slowly recovering from the devastating blow caused by coronavirus. But the pandemic has laid bare and worsened the chronic short staffing strain of many years on the cancer nurses.

We’re campaigning for Governments across the UK to invest in enough specialist cancer nurses to provide the vital care people living with cancer need.

Will you add your name to this Parliamentary petition and help us secure a vital debate?

We don’t have enough cancer nurses to deliver vital care

Since the start of the pandemic, Macmillan has been campaigning for UK Governments to make sure cancer does not become the forgotten 'C'. Now we are launching our vital next steps of the campaign, calling for urgent investment for cancer nurses across the UK.

Before coronavirus, chronic staff shortages meant our cancer nurses were already struggling each day deliver essential care. Now, an NHS already at crisis point is facing soaring demand.

Our new research report, Cancer Nursing on the Line (PDF), sets out that across the UK a total investment of around £170 million is needed to fund the training costs of creating nearly 4000 specialist cancer nurses required in 2030 to provide the care people need.

Time and time again, people living with cancer tell us that their nurse was a ‘lifeline’. The worsening crisis facing the cancer workforce means there are far too few nurses, and many people living with cancer are unable to access the critical help they need.

That’s why we’re campaigning for UK Governments invest in enough cancer nurses to provide the care needed - or the cost on the NHS, and peoples’ lives, will be much greater.

You can help us reach Government with a powerful, united demand that they fund the cancer workforce. Will you add your name to this Parliamentary petition, and help us secure a vital debate?

Hear from a cancer nurse specialist and a person living with cancer about why we need urgent investment across the UK.

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Take action in your nation

See what Macmillan is calling for in your nation, and how you can support the campaign.

If you think you are not receiving the right care, we have also developed guides to help you take action. Select your location below to read about your rights in your nation.

An illustrated map of England with the text 'England' on a purple background. More info

In England, Macmillan are calling for:

  • A commitment from the UK Government that its Comprehensive Spending Review will invest in a new Cancer Nurse Fund, providing £124 million to train an extra 3,371 specialist cancer nurses in England so that people living with cancer can access the personalised care they need.
  • We expect the Government’s commitment to recruit an additional 50,000 nurses to include provision for more specialist cancer nurses. In the long term, the Government must commit to fund the employment costs of the additional specialist cancer nurses that our NHS needs.
  • NHS England and Health Education England should develop and fund a comprehensive support package to promote specialist cancer nurses’ wellbeing, and time and funding to access CPD.
  • Health Education England should urgently implement a careers framework to support more nurses to become specialist cancer nurses, including developing structured pathways from general adult nursing into specialist cancer nursing and a greater focus on cancer care in the undergraduate syllabus.

Take action

Macmillan has joined forces with a group of cancer charities on a petition to raise the alarm about the worsening crisis facing the cancer workforce. At 10,000 signatures, we'll get a response from Parliament. At 100,000 we can secure a debate.

You can help us reach Government with a powerful, united demand that they fund the cancer workforce.

Will you add your name to the Parliamentary petition, and help us secure a vital debate?

Northern Ireland More info

Macmillan is calling for the Northern Ireland Executive to:

  • Deliver a cancer strategy workforce plan that is fully costed and funded. Demand-based modelling of the specialist cancer nurse workforce should take place across the cancer pathway to inform implementation of this plan and build the workforce of the future
  • Provide recurrent funding in a multi-year settlement from the outset to deliver the workforce elements of the recovery plan. This should be supported by a focus on retention, progress the next phase of the specialist cancer nurse expansion programme and invest the £7.2 million to train the specialist cancer nurses that our research demonstrates are needed in NI by 2030.

Take action

This September, Macmillan will host a virtual World's Biggest Coffee Morning and talk to Members of the Legislative Assembly about urgent cancer workforce issues in Northern Ireland. Macmillan wants MLAs to commit to ensuring every person living with cancer has access to a specialist cancer nurse.

Will you help us by asking your local Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to participate in Macmillan's Coffee Morning this year?

Scotland More info

Macmillan is calling for the Scottish Government to:

  • Undertake future modelling of the wider cancer workforce that will be required to meet rising demand as well as more complex needs.
  • Use this cancer workforce modelling to deliver a costed implementation plan which has a focus on skills mix and addresses retention as well as recruitment. This should include investing £30.8 million in Scotland to train the specialist cancer nurses that our research demonstrates are needed by 2030.

Take action

This September, Macmillan will host a virtual World's Biggest Coffee Morning and talk to Members of the Scottish Parliament about urgent cancer workforce issues in Scotland.

Macmillan wants MSPs to commit to ensuring every person living with cancer has access to a specialist cancer nurse.

Will you help us by asking your local Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) to participate in Macmillan's Coffee Morning this year?

Wales More info

In Wales, Macmillan are calling for:

  • Welsh Government to provide targeted investment to meet future specialist nursing workforce demands highlighted through our research.
  • Health boards and trusts in Wales to guarantee time and ringfenced funding for nurses to access Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities. This includes continuing strategic leadership development once a nurse has reached a specialist level.
  • A commitment from Welsh Government to direct Health Education and Improvement Wales to develop a clear plan for the cancer workforce.
  • Welsh Government and Health Education and Improvement Wales to create and fund an optimised career development pathway for general adult nurses to develop into clinical nurse specialists.
  • Welsh Government to publish regular figures on the cancer nursing workforce including the size of the workforce and vacancy rates by nursing band, cancer type and other characteristics.

Take action

This month, Macmillan will host World's Biggest Coffee Morning events outside the Senedd and talk to Members of the Senedd about urgent cancer workforce issues.

Will you help us by asking your local Member of the Senedd (MS) to participate in Macmillan's Coffee Morning this year?

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