'Disappointing' cancer recovery plan does not invest enough in staff, charities say

The action plan set out by the Scottish Government on Wednesday for a recovery of cancer care services in Scotland after the Covid-19 pandemic does not invest enough money in the workforce, cancer charities have said.

Charities have called for more funding for staff.
Charities have called for more funding for staff.

It lays out plans for £97.5 million of committed spending over the two years to March 2023, as well as an additional £17 million of extra funds, subject to parliamentary approval.

The plan includes the introduction of Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres, a programme of “prehabilitation” to help patients prepare for treatment, and a single point of contact to support patients.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But some cancer charities have warned it does not go far enough on investments into the workforce.

“While this Plan to recover and redesign cancer services in Scotland includes welcome commitments and funding that could improve early diagnosis and access to care and treatment for thousands of cancer patients, it neglects to address some critical issues that would improve the outcomes and experience of people with breast cancer,” said Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now.

“The cancer workforce is in crisis; we are pleased to see the investment in diagnostic equipment included, but we also need an adequately resourced and supported workforce alongside this.

"Until this investment in the cancer workforce is made, women may be left waiting longer for a breast cancer diagnosis and any treatment that they need – an alarming prospect when we know that the earlier breast cancer is diagnosed, the better the chance of successful treatment.

Read More
£17 million announced in new funding for Scottish cancer services to recover fro...

Marion O’Neill, spokesperson for Cancer Research UK in Scotland, said: “While there are some welcome commitments here, including plans to set up one stop shops for cancer diagnosis, it isn’t clear how some of the biggest challenges facing cancer services today will be tackled.

“What we don’t see here is how to address the acute staff shortages that existed even before the pandemic struck.

“We know that when cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is more likely to be successful and so efficient access to cancer services can be lifesaving.

“Now is the time for the Scottish Government to invest in the cancer workforce, so they can deliver on the most impactful aspects of this plan and ensure cancer patients don’t wait too long.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Baroness Morgan added that it is “extremely disappointing” that the plan does not include commitments to improve care for incurable secondary breast cancer patients that were made in the update to the Cancer Strategy published earlier this year and this must be urgently addressed.

"In particular the Cancer Recovery Plan marks another missed opportunity to improve the data available on secondary breast cancer - including the number of people living with the disease – the first step to ensuring every person gets the care and support that they need,” she said.

"People with secondary breast cancer do not have time on their side, making every missed chance to address their needs another tragedy that should have been avoided.

“With this Cancer Recovery Plan falling short of delivering on the needs of people with breast cancer, we hope that the Scottish Government will take additional steps to ensure that everyone living with this devastating disease receives the best possible care, as they deserve.”

The Scottish Government did not respond to requests for comment.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.