An oncology workforce fit for the future
To continue delivering high-quality and patient-centred care, the future oncology workforce of the NHS needs to be agile, expansive, and diverse. MSD spoke to experts to share their thoughts on what this might look like…
Remarkable progress is being made in novel areas of cancer research, which are contributing to the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. With recent reforms in UK clinical trial regulations, patients have the potential to access new cancer-targeting drugs quicker than ever before. In order for UK patients to have the best opportunity to participate in the latest commercial clinical trials, we need to see urgent implementation of the Lord O’Shaughnessy review recommendations, to address the major delays when approving new studies and recruiting patients.
Despite advancements in oncology research and development, the burden of cancer on healthcare systems continues to rise. By 2040, more than half a million people across the UK will be diagnosed with cancer each year. Record numbers of people in the UK are coming forward to have cancer checks and screenings (10,000 per day) and subsequently receiving diagnoses (around 6%). This is important progress, as it enables people to be treated at earlier stages of disease (stage 1 or 2) when survival prospects are typically higher. Although this is a step in the right direction, the challenge is to consistently deliver on screening programmes and provide timely treatment to continue improving cancer outcomes.
As the demand on the NHS continues to increase, it’s imperative that the oncology workforce in the UK is equipped with the expertise, skills, and resources to deliver high-quality, patient-centred care. Health Education England continues to invest in the education and training of the NHS’ oncology workforce, but pressures on healthcare services will continue to rise, necessitating expansion of the workforce to address both existing capacity challenges and growing demand.
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