Responding to the publication of the NHS long-term workforce plan, Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“Today’s publication of the desperately needed and long-awaited workforce plan follows years of campaigning by Breast Cancer Now and other health organisations.
“Plans to increase the number of training places to help plug the projected shortfalls in the NHS workforce are welcome, but moving forward, we urgently need to understand what this will mean for medical specialities, including oncology and radiology which are vital to the early diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Ongoing investment will also be needed to make this plan a reality.
“Crucially, the measures outlined in this plan cannot detract from the fact that the breast cancer workforce is currently in a perilous situation. We acknowledge there are no quick fixes, but more must be done to find innovative solutions that free up capacity and support hardworking staff, now.
“We welcome the determination in the plan to ensure all cancer patients, including those with secondary cancers, have access to a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or other support worker, including by establishing training opportunities and developing career pathways for nurses. But we must remember this commitment was first made over four years ago in the Long-Term Plan. For the estimated 57,000 patients in England with incurable secondary breast cancer, who are on lifelong treatment - and who often have complex emotional and supportive care needs - clinical nurse specialists are vital, and they simply don’t have time to wait. Yet our 2019 survey of over 2,000 secondary breast cancer patients revealed only 30% were able to see their CNS regularly.
“Commitment to refreshing projections within the plan every two years is encouraging; but this must include accountable reporting and tangible action to ultimately ensure the best standard of treatment and care for breast cancer patients both now, and in the future.