HEE launches ‘Cancer Workforce Plan for England’

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Health Education England (HEE) has launched a new cancer workforce strategy outlining plans to improve cancer care and staff numbers.

The ‘Cancer Workforce Plan for England’ has been developed with NHS England and aims to make improvements for cancer patients over the next 3 years.

As part of the initiative, several key areas will be addressed. Actions to improve cancer care include:

  • investment in 200 extra endoscopists, increasing diagnostic capacity and reducing consultants’ workload
  • investment in 300 reporting radiographers by 2021, increasing diagnostic capacity for earlier diagnosis
  • implementing retention initiatives, producing 746 additional consultants by 2021
  • expanding cancer nurse specialist roles
  • supporting continued learning and development of cancer staff
  • working with partners to overcome workforce challenges
  • improving working life within the NHS.

In 2014, 357,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in the UK, and the number of new cases is predicted to rise to 420,000 in 2022.

Professor Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of HEE, commented: ‘We do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. To succeed in delivering the changes we have said are required will require concerted action and focus from partners working across the health and care system, including Royal Colleges and regulators.

‘Today's announcement represents a significant step towards making the improvements to cancer care we all know are needed, a reality. The measures are ambitious but essential for delivering the world class cancer care services we all want to see. I'm confident the NHS can rise to this challenge.’

Macmillan Cancer Support (MCS) has welcomed the ‘important progress’ being made in cancer care. However, Dr Fran Woodard, Executive Director of Policy and Impact at MCS, said the charity shares ‘many of the concerns raised in the report’, particularly the insufficient progress that has been made over the last 2 years to ensure the cancer workforce can meet growing demands.

‘Doctors and nurses working in cancer care have told us that they are currently seriously overstretched, and this is beginning to affect patient care. The NHS has promised action to address this by the end of the year and we look forward seeing detail on this.’