Nottingham hospital rations cancer treatments for patients over lack of nurses

·2-min read
Nottingham University Hospitals are being forced to limit chemotherapy treatments. (PA)
Nottingham University Hospitals are being forced to limit chemotherapy treatments. (PA)

Cancer patients are being forced to miss vital treatment due to a shortage of nurses at a hospital in Nottingham.

Chemotherapy treatments are currently being limited at Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) due to staff sickness and vacancies.

The Nottingham Post reported the patients affected were mostly in palliative care for whom chemotherapy was primarily used to manage their symptoms.

Dr Keith Girling, medical director at NUH, told the Nottingham Post: “Our clinical teams are prioritising care based on the likely clinical benefit. We are deeply sorry for the concern and upset this will cause.

“The chemotherapy unit staffing is currently severely impacted by sickness and vacancies affecting our ability to deliver a full service safely.

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“We are supporting the staff and actively recruiting to posts and will ensure that any service limitations are for the shortest possible period.”

The trust said they would contact all impacted patients and added that it was receiving help from other nearby hospitals.

There is a nationwide shortage of specialist cancer nurses in the UK at the moment, as well as a wider shortage across the entire nursing profession.

Shortages have left more than half a million people with cancer either unsupported or not supported enough, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

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A fifth of people with cancer who responded to a survey by the charity in summer said they had either not received any support from a specialist cancer nurse during their diagnosis or treatment and would have liked to, or said the support they received was not enough.

Macmillan said this equates to around 630,000 people when the total number living with cancer in the UK is taken into account.

The charity said a quarter of people diagnosed with cancer in the UK in the past two years – including at least an estimated 75,000 people diagnosed since the start of the pandemic – felt they lacked specialist cancer nursing support.

In August a report warned chronic staff shortages in the NHS are getting worse as figures showed there were 10,000 more vacancies in June than a year ago.

The report by NHS Digital said there were almost 100,000 vacancies in the NHS.

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