Over half (52%) of GPs and nurses are ‘not confident’ that the NHS workforce can provide adequate care for patients with cancer.
More than a third (37%) of respondents to a Macmillan Cancer Support survey of 250 GPs and nurses said workforce pressures meant cancer patients attending A&E because they can’t get help elsewhere.
And nearly half (44%) said pressures on workforce meant patients not being treated as early as they should be.
Macmillan urged UK governments to address these significant pressures and to ensure that the NHS cancer workforce is equipped to meet future challenges.
Lynda Thomas, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support said: ‘Attending A&E because [cancer patients] can’t get help elsewhere or waiting too long for treatment should be a rare event for someone being treated for cancer, but this research suggests this could be becoming worryingly routine.’
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the figures should be ‘a wake-up call’, but added: ‘GPs are doing a good job of identifying and treating our patients with cancer – 75% of patients found to have cancer are referred after only one or two GP consultations despite many early stage cancers presenting in vague ways.
‘And in the last five years the proportion of cancers diagnosed as an emergency has dropped from 25% to 20%.’