UK Government cuts are causing a ‘growing threat’ to cancer patient care, says new report

Hannah Blake


There is a ‘growing threat to patient care’ as chemotherapy infusion suites feel the pressure of increasing demand, according to a new report by pharmaceutical company Roche.

Improved diagnosis and better treatment options for patients means that more patients than ever are living longer with cancer. The Cancer Capacity Challenge (CCC) report highlights that while there is welcome news, it does mean that this has now led to an increase in demand for chemotherapy services at a time when the Government is seeking to reduce NHS spending.

The CCC report includes research undertaken by oncology pharmacists and specialist nurses into the opinions of frontline staff. The research found that 84% of oncology pharmacists believe that a deficiency in capacity to deliver cancer care is having either some or a significant negative impact on patient care.

Furthermore, 76% of nurses and 68% of pharmacists felt that if capacity issues are not addressed, it could result in longer waiting times for patients who require vital cancer services.

 “The development and success of innovative cancer treatments mean that people are living with cancer for much longer. However, this success has caused its own challenges and is placing huge pressure on the NHS at a time when it’s seeking to reduce, rather than increase, spending. This means that the need to utilise existing technologies and embrace new ones across the entire NHS is essential for improving patient care as well as reducing the costs to make space for the next generation of treatments.”

Dr Mark Verrill, Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Cancer incidence rates have increased by 20% in men and 40% in women since the mid-1970s, according to the charity Cancer Research UK. By 2030, CRUK estimates that the total number of new cases of cancer will be almost 432,000 compared to just under 298,000 in 2007.

So making the best use of resources is a major priority for the NHS. The CCC report concludes that improvements in the chemotherapy suit can be achieved through better planning, however this alone cannot deliver sufficient capacity savings. Innovation is needed to find new ways in which chemotherapy can be delivered, for instance by finding new formulations that enable medicines to be taken via subcutaneous injection, which in turn can lead to patients being treated in their own homes.


Related news:

13,000 cancer deaths a year preventable, charity claims (Pharma Times)

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