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Cancer scans and treatment delays put lives at risk – urgent warning issued | United Kingdom | New UK News

A specialist said the situation is so dire that some areas are now rationing or postponing cancer treatments due to lack of staff.

In all areas, health boards and trusts are paying private companies to read images because they don’t have enough of their own specialists to cope with the number of patients.

Staff shortages, particularly for radiologists who interpret scans, are at the root of the problem as well as treatment delays due to lack of equipment, IT and people.

Experts say there is a “double whammy” of delays in diagnosis and then delays in subsequent treatment.

Research published last week shows the UK had a 17% shortage of clinical oncologists – doctors who treat cancers – with shortages of up to 29% in radiology – a key part of cancer diagnosis and treatment . The report from the Royal College of Radiologists predicts that the shortage of radiologists will reach 39% by 2026.

It also showed significant regional disparities in shortages – London has 9.6 oncologists per 100,000 elderly population (55+), while in the North/West, Wales and East Midlands the figures are 3 and 4.5 respectively.

The survey found that every cancer department manager in the UK is concerned about workforce morale, stress and burnout.

“We have a 17% deficit of clinical consultants who provide radiotherapy, immunotherapy and chemotherapy services, but there are shortages in all cancer services.”

“We have never seen a system-wide problem like this. This means that patients are waiting longer for treatment, treatments are delayed and in other cases patients who have the most to be gained from the treatment are prioritized.”

“We know that these delays increase the risk of death.”

“The situation we find ourselves in is simply unsustainable and, as these reports show, the impact of a shortage of doctors is being felt across the country and affecting our ability to diagnose devastating conditions such as heart disease. and strokes, but also affects our ability to diagnose and treat cancer in a timely manner.

A separate report from cancer charity Radiotherapy UK and the CatchUpWithCancer campaign published today found that life-saving radiotherapy services – seen as the best way to reduce the cancer waiting list backlog – collapsed with almost 20 fewer patients treated compared to pre-pandemic levels.

This report also points to research showing that the cancer backlog reaches up to 100,000 patients; the charity warns that the numbers are likely to rise without investment in treatment capacity.
Leading oncologist and co-founder of #CatchUpWithCancer, Professor Pat Price said: “Today’s shocking data reveals just how dire the current situation in cancer treatment is, particularly for radiotherapy departments. . We are also hearing from so many sources that regions are now having to ration services and that many more patients are not being treated within the 62-day window.

Some services have to close machines due to lack of staff. This comes at a time when backlogs are so high but there is less capacity to process people.

“It’s like the recent passport and aviation issue with huge post-covid backlogs that weren’t properly planned. But instead of missing a vacation, people are going to die waiting because the only way to get off a cancer waiting list is to die.”

She added: “At the start of the covid pandemic, we had guidelines that said we could ration or delay treatment and only treat the most urgent cases. Deferred processing has resulted in backlogs, such a postponement now, why do people think they can still rely on this directive? It will only add fuel to the fire.”

“Despite consistent assurances from NHSE senior management that cancer treatment is close to pre-pandemic levels, this is clearly not the reality on the ground. The backlog of cancers is growing and there are not enough people being treated with radiotherapy, which is a miracle treatment to resolve the backlog.

Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research has estimated that it could take more than a decade to clear England’s cancer backlog with around 19,500 people undiagnosed due to missed referrals.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “There are record numbers of doctors, nurses and healthcare staff working in the NHS and our 10-year cancer plan will define how we will lead Europe in cancer care.”

“Our plan to tackle the Covid backlog and reduce cancer wait times includes record investment and the deployment of up to 160 community diagnostic centers across the country – 90 of which are already open.”

“We are already seeing good progress with a million more tests being delivered and the number of longest waiters has halved in the past four months.”

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This notice was published: 2022-06-11 21:01:00

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