Shoulder to Shoulder Against Cancer

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Everyone diagnosed with cancer should be given the best chance of survival. But right now, those who help diagnose and treat cancer are facing a staff shortage crisis.

Enough is enough. Sign our petition asking the Government to train and employ more NHS staff to diagnose and treat cancer early.

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What is the campaign about?

For 70 years NHS staff have been at the forefront of fighting cancer.

But right now, more than 1 in 10 NHS diagnostic posts are unfilled and thousands more NHS staff will be needed in the future. With more people being diagnosed, demand for staff who deliver treatment is going to increase. We need an NHS workforce which is ready and resourced to face this future.

After hearing from people affected by cancer, CRUK supporters, and NHS staff accross the country, we delivered over 3,000 of your messages to the Health Secretary. Your messages showed him why he must commit to training and employing more NHS staff to diagnose cancer early. 

On 7 January, NHS England published its long term plan, which will shape cancer care now and in the future. With a focus on early diagnosis of cancer, we're cautiously optimistic about the plan. But with no details on how the Government plans to train and employ more NHS staff to diagnose cancer early, we're worried the ambitions set won't be acheived. 

It’s up to all of us to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NHS and ask for more staff to deliver the life-saving cancer tests and treatments people need. 

Stand Shoulder to Shoulder against Cancer 

More people than ever are surviving their cancer, thanks to the fantastic work of NHS staff turning research breakthroughs into life-saving tests and treatments for patients.

But services are already struggling to keep up with growing demand. The earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be treated successfully. Right now, nearly half of all cancer patients are diagnosed at a late stage in England, when chances of successful treatment aren’t as good.


Every year more people are being sent for cancer tests. By 2035, it’s expected there will be over half a million new cases of cancer every year in the UK.

We must start planning right now for the future of health services across the UK. If not, services that are already stretched will be put under even more pressure.

Hundreds of campaigners have already stood with the NHS. In June, they asked their MPs to sign a joint letter to Theresa May asking that future NHS planning and funding prioritises training and employing more NHS staff to diagnose and treat cancer. Your MP is your voice in Parliament.  The 174 MPs and Peers that signed the letter are helping us show that together, the people of the UK stand shoulder to shoulder against cancer - Cancer Research UK supporters make that possible.

Health services vary in each nation – staffing, training and planning is run differently in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – but the unifying theme is one of pressure and under-investment.  Though each nation is different, more GPs, radiologists, radiographers, endoscopists, pathologists, oncologists, nurses and surgeons will be needed in all 4 countries to address the current alarming staff shortages, and the growing demand.

The Prime Minister has recently spoken about a long-term plan and additional funding for the NHS. Health is a devolved issue so the governments in Wales, Scotland and Norther Ireland control their own health budgets. For any health investment from the UK Government, a proportion is passed to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales so devolved governments’ health budgets benefit too. How this money is spent is then decided by the Northern Irish Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, and the Welsh Assembly. The next stage of this campaign will be to influence how any new money for health is spent in each country - later this year we'll be asking governments to make sure they are also able to employ and train the staff they need.

This is the first step: if the UK Government prioritises cancer diagnosis and care in its future NHS planning and budgeting, it will be easier to influence politicians in each of the UK nations.


Our campaign victories

Find out how your actions help to create change to beat cancer sooner.

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We campaign for change to improve early diagnosis, treatments and help prevent people developing cancer in the first place. Together, we will beat cancer.

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