Cancer will hit 300,000 Scots within six years

Scottish Daily Mail - - The Brexmas Election - By Kate Foster Scot­tish Health Ed­i­tor

SCOT­LAND is fac­ing a cancer time bomb, with at least 300,000 peo­ple pre­dicted to be liv­ing with the dis­ease by 2025, a lead­ing char­ity has warned.

The new num­ber of suf­fer­ers – roughly one in 18 Scots – will have in­creased from the cur­rent to­tal of 250,000 in only five years and rep­re­sents a rise of around a third over the past decade.

Cam­paign­ers say that the fright­en­ing fig­ures will re­quire de­ci­sive Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment ac­tion as the NHS strug­gles un­der the weight of the prob­lem.

Macmil­lan Cancer Sup­port cal­cu­lated the 2025 fig­ure us­ing na­tional cancer data.

The cur­rent to­tal is up nearly 14 per cent from 2015, when 220,000 peo­ple were liv­ing with the ill­ness or its af­ter­math. The fig­ures in­clude all those who are liv­ing with cancer or have ever been di­ag­nosed with it, even if now cancer-free.

Head of Macmil­lan in Scot­land, Jan­ice Pre­ston, 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 did not ask for help that they des­per­ately need as they didn’t want to bur­den over­worked staff.

‘The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted it­self to pub­lish­ing a work­force plan to tackle the is­sues in the sys­tem.

‘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.

‘We’re also work­ing hard to en­sure our own ser­vices – funded al­most

‘Feel they are fail­ing pa­tients’

en­tirely by pub­lic do­na­tions – can be there for as many peo­ple with cancer as pos­si­ble.’

The most com­mon cancer di­ag­noses in Scot­land are lung, bowel, breast and prostate.

More peo­ple are sur­viv­ing be­cause of ma­jor ad­vances in treat­ment. But Scots are also liv­ing longer and are more likely to de­velop cancer the older they are.

Macmil­lan said the ris­ing num­ber of pa­tients with a cancer di­ag­no­sis un­der­lines the chal­lenge that faces cancer care in Scot­land.

Al­most one in five pa­tients waits longer than the six-week tar­get for vi­tal di­ag­nos­tic tests, amid staff short­ages across the NHS.

Macmil­lan’s warn­ing comes as fi­nance watch­dog Au­dit Scot­land, Holy­rood’s cross-party group on cancer and the Royal Col­lege of Nurs­ing have is­sued sep­a­rate calls for work­force plan­ning in the NHS to be pri­ori­tised.

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

Around a third were not of­fered all the prac­ti­cal ad­vice and sup­port they needed to deal with the side­ef­fects of their treat­ment, while just over one in ten found it dif­fi­cult to con­tact their spe­cial­ist cancer nurse.

Macmil­lan and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment have re­cently an­nounced a joint £18mil­lion project to pro­vide cancer pa­tients across the coun­try with ac­cess to a sup­port worker and to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness of care.

The char­ity said that this would go a long way to help­ing peo­ple with cancer but stressed ad­e­quate num­bers of med­i­cal and so­cial care staff are ‘vi­tal’.

‘Dev­as­tat­ing’: Jan­ice Pre­ston

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