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Cancer Workforce: Nurses

Volume 692: debated on Tuesday 13 April 2021

What plans the Government have to ensure an adequate number of nurses in the cancer workforce to deliver the targets for cancer set out in the NHS long-term plan. (914209)

Cancer diagnosis and treatment is a priority for this Government. I am working with the Minister for prevention and public health—the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St Edmunds (Jo Churchill)—to ensure that we have the necessary workforce to deliver improved cancer care. Overall, we are increasing the number of nurses in the NHS, with over 10,000 more nurses in the NHS this January than a year ago. We are training 250 more cancer nurses and 100 more specialist chemotherapy nurses.

I thank the Minister for that encouraging response, but will she outline what steps have been taken to ensure that Northern Ireland students educated in UK mainland nursing schemes can easily transition to fill the needs in our cancer wards both in the UK mainland and in Northern Ireland?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question, and if he will allow me, I will look into that and write to him.

Prior to the pandemic, cancer services were understaffed and not meeting their targets. During the pandemic, our staff have made incredible efforts, but a cancer backlog has built up. The Government are now asking the same understaffed cohort to run their normal services and to deal with the backlog at the same time. This is unfair, will lead to burn out and will not work. Will the Government commit today to extra resources specifically targeted at cancer to give those staff a fighting chance?

I thank the hon. Member for his question. The Government have already committed significant additional resources to support the NHS in recovering from the impact of the pandemic, and that will include cancer services as well as other areas of treatment.