News ID: 262225
Published: 0908 GMT November 29, 2019

Almost 250,000 people living with cancer in Scotland

Almost 250,000 people living with cancer in Scotland
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Almost a quarter of a million people are now living with cancer in Scotland, new analysis has revealed.

Macmillan Cancer Support has urged the Scottish government to show it can meet demand to support patients when the National Health Service (NHS) is already facing staff shortages, BBC reported.

The charity used national cancer registry data to calculate the figures.

The number of people living with the disease or its aftermath is expected to reach 300,000 by 2025, a rise of more than a third in a decade.

The data compares it with 2015, when 220,000 people had cancer or had already been treated for cancer.

Macmillan said the figures highlighted the stark challenge facing the cancer care system in Scotland, at a time when staffing shortages in the NHS were worsening.

The Scottish government said NHS Scotland's staffing levels were at ‘historically high levels’.

 

'Over-worked staff'

 

Janice Preston, who heads up the Macmillan charity in Scotland, said, "The staff who work in the NHS and social care do some of the toughest jobs in the country.

"They want to give people with cancer the care and support they deserve, but they're struggling under the weight of the ever-increasing numbers of people who need their help.

"It's heartbreaking to hear from staff who feel they're failing cancer patients because they just don't have enough time. It's devastating when people with cancer tell us they didn't ask for help they desperately need as they didn't want to burden over-worked staff.

"We look forward to seeing a fully-funded plan that sets out how it will ensure hard-working staff can give people with cancer the care they deserve now and in the future."

The charity, which is mostly funded by public donations to provide support to cancer patients, was working to reach as many people as possible, she added.

Audit Scotland, the Scottish Parliament's cross party group on cancer, and the Royal College of Nursing, have issued separate calls for workforce planning in the NHS to be prioritized.

In spring this year, the Cancer Patient Experience Survey, found that among those cancer patients who wanted it, 40 percent did not receive enough care and support from health or social services during treatment.

 

Dedicated support worker

 

Macmillan and the Scottish government recently announced a joint £18 million project that will see everyone with cancer given access to a support worker to help them access emotional, practical and financial support.

The project is also expected help make the cancer care system more effective and efficient.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said, "NHS Scotland's staffing levels are at historically-high levels, having grown over the past seven consecutive years, and improvements in workforce planning will help ensure we have the right people in the right place at the right time to continue to deliver high-quality care that meets Scotland's needs."

She said the government had published NHS Scotland workforce plans covering primary care and social care and was delivering on the recommendations. It hoped to publish its integrated workforce plan by the end of this year.

"We recognize that dealing with cancer is often traumatic and our £18 million partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support was launched in August to make Scotland the first country in the UK to ensure everyone diagnosed with cancer has access to a dedicated support worker who will offer emotional, practical and financial advice," the spokeswoman added.

"This investment will mean cancer care teams in hospitals are able to focus solely on the provision of personalized medical care and support."

   
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