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Cancer workforce plan

Cancer care is one of the Five Year Forward View’s key priorities - focussing on prevention, earlier diagnosis, better treatment and living with cancer. Having access to more skilled staff in the right areas will be key to delivering on that strategy.


One-in-three of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime. Fortunately, half of those with cancer will now live for at least ten years, whereas 40 years ago the average survival was only one year. But cancer survival is below the European average, especially for people aged over 75, and especially when measured at one year after diagnosis compared with five years.

The Cancer Workforce Plan has been developed in partnership with NHS England and our Five Year Forward partners. It sets out a delivery plan that ensures the NHS in England has the right numbers of skilled staff to provide high quality care and services to cancer patients at each stage in their care – from accurate early diagnosis and treatment to living with cancer and end of life care.

The plan responds to the independent Cancer Taskforce which set out a strategy to radically improve diagnosis, longer term quality of life and experiences for people who are affected by cancer in England.

Professor Ian Cumming, Chief Executive, Health Education England:

It's good news that more patients are surviving cancer than ever before due to unprecedented advances in our ability to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Today's plan sets out a pragmatic approach to ensure we have sufficient staff with the right skills to embed new tests and treatments, as well as initiatives to retain staff who already deliver much needed care and support to cancer patients and their families up and down the country. Rightly so, it places workforce at the centre of transforming cancer care.  

"We do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. To succeed in delivering the changes we have said are required will require concerted action and focus from partners working across the health and care system, including Royal Colleges and regulators."

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