Ministers warned cancer survival rates could fall due to NHS staff and pay crises | Nursing

Ministers warned cancer survival rates could fall due to NHS staff and pay crises | Nursing

Ministers risk reducing the chances of survival for cancer patients and undoing two decades of progress in reducing death rates unless they address the National Health Service jobs crisis and settle the pay dispute, warned the head of Britain’s biggest cancer charity.

While efforts have been made to prioritize cancer patients, Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said the impact of the coming week nurses strikes and ambulance workers would be cumulative and the NHS would find it “increasingly difficult” to prevent cancer patients from dying early.

His intervention will increase the pressure on Rishi Sunak, who is already facing calls from health leaders and senior conservatives to hold wage talks with health unions to prevent more strikes. A sixth former Conservative minister, Anne Milton, called on the government to start negotiations on Friday.

Speaking to The Guardian, Mitchell warned that current record long waits for cancer care could get even worse, and targets to reduce waiting times by 2025 may not be met.

“We strongly urge all parties involved to work together to reach a resolution and ensure that vital care for cancer patients is not seriously affected,” he said. “Oncology services are already struggling due to the pandemic and years of chronic labor shortages.

“Despite the best efforts of NHS staff, cancer waiting times are consistently among the worst on record and plans to reduce them by 2025 are unlikely to be achieved.”

On Friday night, NHS England released figures showing 10,000 staff were out of work as a direct result of the nurses’ strike on Thursday. The data also showed that 2,452 elective procedures and operations were cancelled, as well as 13,327 outpatient appointments.

“Although we know that the NHS correctly prioritizes cancer, the effect of the strikes will be cumulative and it will become increasingly difficult for hospitals to avoid the impact on cancer patient outcomes,” Mitchell said.

He spoke ahead of a report to be published this weekend that is understood to show that cancer death rates have dropped significantly since Cancer Research UK, which has invested £5.4bn in cancer research and treatment, was founded in 2002.

But Mitchell said that failure to recruit and retain enough NHS staff to treat cancer patients risked jeopardizing two decades of progress against the disease.

“The government must fulfill its commitment to publish a long-term workforce plan, which includes measures to maximize retention; Otherwise, we risk undoing all the progress we have made with so much effort in the last 20 years.”

Earlier, Sharon Graham, head of one of Britain’s biggest unions, Unite, said the government’s refusal to hold talks was putting patients’ lives at risk.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) plans another strike next Tuesday, to be followed on Wednesday by a strike by ambulance workers, including Unite members.

“Ministers need to shake up and enter into serious pay talks or see this strike extend into next week,” Graham said.

“Anyone with a cursory knowledge of the NHS can see that this government has brought it to its knees. A decade of pay cuts and chronic staff shortages is crushing our NHS and putting patients’ lives at risk.”

Separately, Milton, a former Conservative MP and health minister who had been a nurse, told The Guardian that the government’s failure to speak to them “looks really bad”, adding: “I think the government should sit at the table” to discuss appearance. back to pay.

It comes after former health ministers Dan Poulter Y steve brineas well as former cabinet minister Robert Buckland and Jake Berry, suggested that the government should reopen wage negotiations.

Sarah Atherton, a Conservative MP for Wales and a former nurse, also expressed sympathy for the striking nurses, suggesting that the Welsh Labor government was “into the giveaway” of offering more than the 5.5% that the pay review body recommended. she urging them to “get around the table” with the RCN to talk about wages.

In England, Sunak continued to resist doing so, insisting that it was wrong to reopen the payment offer, and claiming that it was “adequate and fair.”

Meanwhile, the government is also likely to come under scrutiny over the cost of the strikes. Senior Defense Ministry officials told MPs it would bill departments around £4,000 per soldier a week, with up to 2,500 servicemen on standby to step in next week.

They suggested the total bill could be in the millions of pounds a month to support the NHS, Border Force and other public services.

RCN leader Pat Cullen warned that action by nurses would intensify unless ministers back down from their refusal to negotiate pay.

Saffron Cordery, acting chief executive of NHS Providers, said the first nurses’ strike had a “significant impact” on patients, with around 40% to 60% of routine operations “cancelled in places where the strikes took place. “. Next week will be “very challenging” for the NHS, she added.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said ministers should have gone back to the pay review body for new recommendations when the RCN first voted to strike.

“I think at this late stage the quickest and most effective thing the government could do would be to enter into direct face-to-face negotiations with the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and others on wages,” the Labor MP said after a meeting. speech before the Policy Exchange think tank.

“That would immediately call off the strike as the unions have promised to do.”

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