Non-surgical cancer treatments workforce

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Improving cancer treatments has been identified as a priority in each of the cancer strategies of England, Scotland, and Wales in a drive towards improving patient outcomes and care. In order to achieve these improvements, we must understand the support and training needed for the workforce delivering these treatments.

To inform these cancer strategies and the successful implementation, we commissioned a research study to investigate the non-surgical oncology workforce of the UK. This is the first time UK-wide data has been collected on the non-surgical oncology workforce as a whole and it identifies gaps in the data. Interviews with workforce groups were carried out to confirm the accuracy of data collection done by health services and professional bodies. 

Our report ‘Full team ahead’ outlines the findings and recommendations from this research. We want to highlight the following recommendations:

  • Health Education England should use our ‘best practice treatment model’ to project required workforce numbers based on patient demand, not on affordability.
  • Cancer Alliances should report staff shortages to health workforce bodies, such as Health Education England, based on staff needed to meet patient demand not vacancy figures.
  • Health Education England must address current and future staff shortages by:
    • Increasing training places for clinical and medical oncology;
    • Reviewtraining pipelines for clinical technology with IPEM and Department of Health; and
    • Reviewing how the removal of student bursaries for nurses and therapeutic radiographers is affecting workforce projections in 2018/19.
  • NHS England should share the 3 key skills mix opportunities identified in this research with Cancer Alliances to spread innovation and encourage best practice.
  • The Department of Health and equivalent bodies in the devolved nations should ensure that contracts for health professionals covered in this research include protected time for Supporting Professional Activities such as service improvement, training, and clinical research.

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