‘Inadequate’ progress on cancer services

TWO recent reports have shown the Government is making ‘inadequate’ progress against its commitments on cancer services.

An evaluation by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee Expert Panel on Cancer Services has rated Government progress as ‘inadequate’ against commitments made to improve cancer services.

And a second report published days later by the Health and Social Care Committee on Cancer services has found the NHS in England is struggling to make progress on diagnosing three-quarters of cancer cases at an early stage due to staffing shortages disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic.

IPEM provided input into both of these consultations.

Expert Panel

The Expert Panel focused on progress made on five commitments in different policy areas, and those relevant to IPEM were:

  • Workforce – progress was shown overall as inadequate
  • Diagnostics – requires improvement
  • Innovation and technology – requires improvement

Nicky Whilde, Chair of IPEM’s Radiotherapy Professional Standards Panel, said:

‘It comes as no surprise to those professions in IPEM working in radiotherapy that the conclusion drawn by the Expert Panel regarding progress against Government cancer commitments is that it  “Requires Improvement”.

‘The targets set in the Cancer Workforce Plan were “woefully short” of those required, bearing in mind the well documented shortfall in staffing in all professions in Radiotherapy.’

Andrew Shah, IPEM’s representative on the National Imaging Workforce Group, said: ‘I support the findings of this report. There is a clear need to grow the workforce for all healthcare professions involved in cancer services. The growth in workforce is needed to improve referral to diagnosis and referral to treatment targets and to implement new technologies, which all combined will improve patient outcomes.’

Cancer services

The findings of the cancer services consultation echoes IPEM’s submission to it last year, namely a need for capital investment in ageing radiotherapy linear accelerators, workforce shortages in key areas and the need to fund more training places in specialist roles.

IPEM has made the same arguments in a submission to a recent Department of Health and Social Care 10-Year Cancer Plan consultation.

Professor Andrew Reilly, Director of IPEM’s Science, Technology and Engineering Research and Innovation Council, said: ‘The response to the 10-Year Cancer Plan consultation once again highlights the workforce shortages faced by the medical physics and clinical engineering community. We all know there are staff shortages right across the NHS but we really do need to see those in MPCE addressed because of the potential impact on patients.’

Consultation responses