NHS cancer services facing nurse shortage

Dr Karen Roberts, Macmillan’s Chief of Nursing commented on the findings, saying:

“Having the expertise and support of a specialist nurse from the point of diagnosis has a huge bearing on whether or not a cancer patient has a positive experience of the care they receive. We are concerned that cancer nurses are being run ragged and that some patients may not be receiving the level of specialist care they need. If there aren’t enough specialist cancer staff in place to cope with ever-increasing demand, then all too often it is patients who face the consequences. Patients can really struggle during and after treatment if they do not have enough expert support. Worse still, access to the badly needed treatment may be reduced or delayed if there are shortages of highly trained chemotherapy nurses.’

Ann McMahan, Research and Innovation Manager at the Royal College of Nursing also said:

“It’s no exaggeration to say that the shortage of nurses is putting patients’ lives at risk. As we saw earlier this year, not having enough specialist staff available can delay, or reduce, access to treatment, including life-saving chemotherapy.

Whilst the Department of Health and Social Care declined to comment, a spokesperson did say:

“Cancer survival rates are at a record high, with around 7,000 people alive today who would not have been if mortality rates stayed the same as in 2010. As well as expanding nurse training places by 5,170, we are also committed to increasing the capacity and skills of specialist cancer nurses.”