Shoulder to Shoulder Against Cancer


Campaign for change right now

More than ever we need to campaign to diagnose more cancers earlier.

Join us

You’ve stood shoulder to shoulder with the NHS and saved lives. There will be more staff to diagnose cancer.

For over 75 years NHS staff have been at the forefront of fighting cancer. They’re the ones turning research breakthroughs into life-saving tests and treatments for patients. 

But right now, many NHS cancer staff posts are unfilled, and thousands more NHS staff will be needed in the future. And since COVID-19, pressures on our NHS have only increased. 

That’s why, in 2018, we launched the Shoulder to Shoulder Against Cancer campaign, asking the UK Government to train and employ more staff to diagnose and treat cancer early. 

Campaign Update – A small win, but more to achieve together...

In November 2020, the UK Government in its Spending Review committed to provide extra funding to recruit and train more NHS staff over the next 12 months to diagnose cancer.

This funding is essential because there are NHS cancer staff shortages. NHS statistics from 2017 found that more than 1 in 10 diagnostic positions across our health service were unfilled. This means there simply isn’t enough staff to diagnose cancer early and give everyone the best chance of survival.

COVID-19 has made this worse. Millions of people have been stuck in a lengthening queue for screening, diagnosis and treatment creating a substantial patient backlog. The extra funding means more people will have their cancer caught at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

This is a big moment. Since 2018, the NHS' 70th birthday, many of you have joined us in asking the UK Government to recruit and train more staff to diagnose and treat cancer, as part of our Shoulder to Shoulder campaign. You’ll save lives and we couldn’t have achieved this without you. Thank you so much for your relentless efforts. 

This funding starts to address NHS cancer staff shortages over the short-term. The next steps are to make sure the UK Government commits to a long-term funded plan to ensure there are enough NHS staff to diagnose and treat cancer in the future. This is because it takes years for staff to gain their lifesaving skills. Also, the number of people getting cancer will increase due to an aging population. 

Tackling staff shortages for the long-term would enable the Government to meet their own target of 75% of cancers diagnosed early by 2028 – and saving thousands more lives. Join us and continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the NHS to make sure this happens.

Here’s a recap on how you made it happen

Change takes time, and every little action adds up to the life-saving policy change we need to see to save more lives. Read on for some highlights which have helped to make this happen.

80 volunteers standing in a line outside building

Over 80 Cancer Campaign Ambassadors launched the ‘Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign’, asking the Government to stand shoulder to shoulder with our NHS against cancer together in Westminster at Parliament Day in June 2018. 

4 people standing outside No 10 Downing Street

Later that summer, we handed in a letter into Number 10 with 174 MPs and Peers signatures pledge their support to the campaign. 

Shortly afterwards, then Prime Minister Theresa May committed to diagnosing 3 in 4 cancers early by 2028. A strong ambition, but we need to make sure it happens.

2 Ambassadors meeting with health secretary

Later, two of our Campaigns Ambassadors, Gower and Karen, met with the real Health Secretary, and told him what early diagnosis of cancer meant for them, and their families. 

Race for life

In the summer of 2019 we launched a public petition to show the growing support for the Shoulder to Shoulder campaign, asking supporters to sign at our Race for Life events, and later, in CRUK shops.

cardboard cut out of health secretary

In November 2019, we took cardboard Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, to stand shoulder to shoulder to our NHS and cancer patients. But would the real Matt Hancock stand shoulder to shoulder against cancer? 

Ambassadors and Prime Minister outside No 10 Downing Street

To mark World Cancer Day 2020, a group of researchers, campaigners, people affected by cancer, and cancer survivors met with the Prime Minister, and reminded him the importance of a strong workforce to diagnose more cancers early. 

social media badge

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, campaigning turn virtual. In September 2020, we had our Spotlight on Cancer week, where Campaigners wrote to and met with their MPs virtually about how they could support the Shoulder to Shoulder campaign. 

Campaigner Patrick sent his letter to the Prime Minister, alongside the public petition and pledge that had been signed from MPs from all political parties, asking Mr Johnson to invest in our cancer staff to save more lives.