Cancer nursing at break point as quit rate hits ten-year high
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Cancer nursing at break point as quit rate hits ten-year high

Andrea Downey @journoandrea

Macmillan Cancer Support has called for urgent action from government to boost nurse numbers in cancer care

Cancer nurses are at breaking point with the number of health and care staff leaving the profession at a ten-year high, a charity has warned.

Cancer Nursing Practice. 22, 5, 6-6. doi: 10.7748/cnp.22.5.6.s2

Published: 04 September 2023


Picture credit: iStock

Macmillan Cancer Support chief nursing officer Claire Taylor called for urgent government action to build England’s NHS cancer workforce as nurses’ job satisfaction and morale plummets. Analysis by the charity shows that 4,378 staff left NHS hospital and community cancer services in the 12 months to September 2022 which, it says, is a ten-year high.

While the cancer workforce has grown around 50% since 2010, it has failed to keep pace with a 191% increase in people being seen by a specialist for suspected cancer.

Ms Taylor said: ‘Working in the NHS as a cancer nurse consultant, I am acutely aware that the ongoing workforce crisis is being felt deeply by cancer nurses up and down the country.

‘The cancer workforce is exhausted and overworked and what’s needed now is government intervention. What are they waiting for?’

Further research from the charity suggests that 25% of people with cancer in England who were diagnosed in the past ten years felt they lacked support from a specialist cancer nurse, rising to 28% of those diagnosed within the past five years and 29% of all people currently undergoing cancer treatment.

NHS cancer waiting times in England are entering their tenth year of decline.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said despite ‘significant progress’, there is more to do to protect staffing levels.

‘The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan will recruit hundreds of thousands more staff and address staff leaving rates, which are already decreasing.’

Find out more at NHS cancer workforce data

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