Rise in number of people living with cancer
The number of people in Scotland living with cancer has increased by 15 per cent since 2015 to 250,000 people, Macmillan Cancer Support research has found.
The charity used national cancer registry data to calculate the figure, which showed 30,000 more people are now living with the illness than four years ago.
Macmillan also predicted the number of people diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives will rise to 300,000 by 2025, an increase of around 35 per cent in a decade.
Head of Macmillan in Scotland Janice Preston said the increase added to the challenges for those working in the cancer care system “at a time when staffing shortages in the NHS are worsening”.
“The staff who work in the NHS and social care do some of the toughest jobs in the country. They want to give people with cancer the care and support they deserve, but they’re struggling under the weight of the ever-increasing numbers of people who need their help,” Preston said.
“It’s heart-breaking to hear from staff feel they’re failing cancer patients because they just don’t have enough time. It’s devastating when people with cancer tell us they didn’t ask for help they desperately need as they didn’t want to burden over-worked staff.”
She said the charity looked forward to seeing a “fully-funded plan” on the workforce, after the Scottish Government’s commitment to publishing a workforce plan to tackle staffing issues.
“We look forward to seeing a fully-funded plan that sets out how it will ensure hard-working staff can give people with cancer the care they deserve now and in the future,” she said.
Macmillan’s research comes as the Audit Scotland, the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Cancer, and the Royal College of Nursing all issued calls for workforce planning in the NHS to be prioritised.
There are currently 4,000 posts unfilled in Scottish nursing and midwifery, a record high number of vacancies. Earlier this week, a survey by the Royal College of Nursing (Scotland) found three fifths of nurses were overworked and could not provide the level of service they felt patients should receive.
On Thursday Scottish Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee wrote to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman about its concerns over the sustainability of NHS boards, and also raised the issue of “cancer patients awaiting treatment” as a recurring theme across all boards.
The committee said they had not “seen any evidence that this is happening across all boards and that strong senior leadership is required to bring about this transformational change in health and social care services”.