Cancer Won't Wait


Funding for diagnostics and NHS staff

The Government has committed “hundreds of millions of pounds” to NHS workforce training and £2.3 billion for diagnostic kit in the Spending Review. Campaigners' emails and petition signatures were key to securing that funding. 

Join our e-campaigners

Patients won’t wait. Families shouldn’t have to wait. Cancer won’t wait.

Early diagnosis saves lives. The UK Government has committed funding to NHS staff training. This needs to be a targeted long-term investment to train more staff to tackle cancer waiting times, keep up with future demand, and transform cancer services.

Cancer Won't Wait | Cancer Research UK


Content not working due to cookie settings.

Manage your cookie settings here

Early diagnosis saves lives. Every second counts.

Cancer touches every family in the UK: 1 in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetime.

The early diagnosis of cancer saves lives. But right now, only around half of cancers are diagnosed early. There simply aren't enough NHS staff or diagnostic kits to give everyone the best chance of survival.

Even before the pandemic cancer services were struggling. Cancer waiting time targets have been routinely missed by significant margins for years. The 62-day target for 85% of patients to begin treatment following an urgent GP cancer referral has not been met since December 2015.

During the pandemic, tens of thousands of people were referred for cancer tests and treatments. For them, every second counts. But many have been left waiting, creating a backlog of people with undiagnosed and untreated cancers.

In the recent Spending Review, the Government responded to our #CancerWontWait campaign, announcing it will provide "hundreds of millions of pounds in additional funding over the SR21 period to ensure a bigger and better trained NHS workforce". The devil will be in the detail, but this could be the news that cancer patients and their families desperately needed.

It's clear your voice has been heard during this campaign. Thank you to everyone who has played their part. You have made sure there will be investment in the NHS workforce over these next 3 years, and we're now really close to being sure that this investment will be there to help cancer patients.

  • 1 in 10 of all posts across the NHS in England were vacant in 2018/19, and it was estimated that, with no action taken, this would rise to 1 in 7 posts vacant by 2023/24.
  • Two thirds of NHS staff said before COVID that they felt staffing levels were insufficient - now they are even more burnt out, stressed and depressed. 1 in 5 doctors told the BMA they will leave their career in the NHS altogether post-pandemic.
  • According to the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), the consultant clinical oncology workforce has a shortfall of 17% which is set to rise up to 29% by 2025. The number of doctors starting specialist training would need to double for the next five years to close the forecast workforce gap.
  • According to the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR), the radiology workforce is now short-staffed by 33%. Without more training, investment in new models of care and better retention and recruitment, by 2025 the radiologist shortfall will hit 44%.
  • More than half (58%) of radiology leaders say they do not have enough diagnostic and interventional radiologists to keep patients safe.
  • The Royal College of Pathologists found that only 3% of histopathology departments across the UK have said they had enough staff to meet clinical demand.
  • Investing in the NHS workforce is fiscally responsible. The NHS Confederation has told the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee that workforce shortages actually cost the Treasury more than recruiting or training the right numbers of staff, due to the premium cost of locum and agency staff.
  • In 2020, national health services across the UK spent £128 million on outsourcing the reporting of scans to the independent sector – equivalent to the combined salaries of a third of the current consultant radiology workforce. This has risen over 58% since 2018.

Help us keep campaigning. Join the movement.

The Government has committed funding to NHS workforce in the recent Spending Review. You can join the campaigners whose emails and petition signatures helped make this happen.

Through supporting this campaign and other Cancer Research UK campaigns you will save lives. 

I want to be involved

Rate this page:

Currently rated: 2.6 out of 5 based on 33 votes
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think