14 July 2021

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“The 11% vacancy rate for breast consultant clinical oncologists across the UK published in today’s clinical oncology census reveals cancer care to be in an incredibly precarious position.

“As one of the most in-demand specialties, breast consultant clinical oncologists play a vital role in delivering core cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Alongside ongoing staffing challenges facing breast radiologists, this alarming shortage of breast oncologists again highlights the unrelenting strain the cancer workforce is under which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

“Almost 11,000 women in the UK could have been living with undiagnosed breast cancer at the end of 2020 due to the pandemic, and COVID-19 cases are now rising again – alarm bells are ringing loudly around the urgent need to control COVID-19 and protect cancer services as they face huge challenges in tackling the backlog and treating people as they come forward and get diagnosed.

“Governments must invest now in a strategic, fully funded long-term plan for the cancer workforce to retain, grow and support staff resourcing. Only then will women with breast cancer get a prompt diagnosis and start treatment as quickly as possible, so they get the best chance of survival.”