We’ve joined with 49 cancer charities urging the government to clarify how they plan to financially support and expand the NHS workforce and, by doing so, protect patients’ lives. Long-term investment in NHS staff will be vital step towards clearing the current cancer backlog and guaranteeing ovarian cancer patients the best possible chance of an early diagnosis, excellent treatment and survival.
In last week’s Spending Review, the government announced it will provide “hundreds of millions of pounds in additional funding over the SR21 period to ensure a bigger and better trained NHS workforce". Ovarian Cancer Action is a member of the campaigning charity group One Cancer Voice, which has written a joint letter asking the government for more detail and assurances that this announcement will meet the needs of people affected by cancer.
The announcement was one of a number of welcome financial commitments from the government, who have pledged funding to tackle the backlog of cancer cases caused by the pandemic and diagnose cancer earlier. However, we fear these good investments will not deliver the desired patient outcomes if they are not mirrored by an accompanying rise in NHS cancer staffing levels.
Even before Covid-19, cancer services were under considerable pressure. In England, waiting time targets for patients to begin treatment have been missed since 2015. The NHS is in real need of more cancer specialists and equipment, and this lack of support is putting a strain on other parts of the NHS, with evidence of more patients experiencing a serious medical problem and needing to attend A&E. Tragically, the pandemic has only put further pressure on cancer services.
We have already urged the government, in a previous letter, to urgently address these challenges in the Spending Review by:
- Growing the cancer workforce and investing in kit to to improve the diagnosis, treatment and care of patients
- Levelling-up on cancer to address socioeconomic factors which mean poorer communities are disproportionately affected by cancer
- Strengthening investment in cancer research and development.
Long term and targeted investment in the cancer workforce is critical to improving cancer care, meeting the government’s own target to diagnose 3 in 4 cancers early, and protecting patients from the effects of the pandemic. Every woman with ovarian cancer deserves the best care, treatment, and chance of living their life to the fullest. That's why we've joined One Cancer Voice's latest call, asking the government how - and how much - it will invest in training, supporting and expanding the NHS workforce.
You can also support our call by signing this Parliamentary Petition asking the Government to invest urgently in the NHS cancer workforce in the autumn Spending Review. Click here to add your support.