In case you were worried the NHS
didn’t understand patients’ needs,
Health Education England (HEE) has launched a comprehensive cancer workforce plan that sets out how it will ensure the NHS has enough staff with the right skills to deliver improvements for people affected by cancer, over the next three years.
Yes – Yawn. Yawn. Currently it takes three years to train a nurse; there are 40,000 vacancies across the NHS and rising. So The Weasel (Jeremy Hunt) has come up with yet another ‘initiative’ to increase paperwork.
He has this touching belief that extra staff live under every gooseberry bush. Someone should tell him these are in short supply on NHS land since he has sold off so much of it. And it takes years to train one junior doctor or technician – let alone find all the qualified people he promises so blithely. So if you see The Weasel, or any of his accolytes rooting around the bushes outside your hospital – you know why.
Should this new HEE plan be sub-titled Pie in the Sky?
The Cancer Workforce Plan for England apparently ‘for the first time’ (Oh yeah?) provides detailed data on key professions so that local Cancer Alliances, HEE and employers ‘can agree the actions needed to help recruit, train and retain the staff necessary to deliver improvements in cancer care’. As if they didn’t know already!
Wait – It gets better – It looks at the work already happening and outlines plans for a skills expansion over the next three years to support growth and transformation. This includes:
- Investment in 200 additional clinical endoscopists to support to increase diagnostic capacity and free up the time of Consultants to spend more time on complex cases; how long will they take to train?
- Investment in 300 reporting radiographers by 2021 to support and increase the capacity for earlier diagnosis as part of a national programme to assure quality and consistency; I thought more were leaving than training?
- Actions identified including retention initiatives to produce an additional 746 consultants working in cancer by 2021, (an estimated 21% increase on 2016); So they haven’t tried this already? Tut Tut! Where are they when you want them?
- Expansion of Cancer Nurse Specialists to develop consistent competencies for this key role and a clear route into training. A more detailed report on the wider contribution of nursing to cancer in light of new census data will be published in spring 2018; Love to know which gooseberry bush CNS hide under.
- Supporting the continued development of cancer staff skills through a national dedicated Skills Fund to support the development and roll out of national transformational projects; Funding! Hurrah!
- Work with partners to identify and tackle the root problems behind workforce gaps in a national Cancer Staff Forum to make working and remaining in the NHS more attractive. If they don’t know where these are by now, which sandy desert are they hiding their heads in?
What this patient wants
My dream would be to be able to phone a central number, get hold of ONE person, explain what I think I need, and go straight through to the right department in the right hospital in the right CCG – and book this for me. I won’t have to waste hours phoning around, and end up not getting anywhere.
The report trots out the old chestnut; this time it’s Prof. Cumming, Chief Executive, who spouts
“It’s good news that more patients are surviving cancer than ever” blah! blah! etc. Hasn’t anyone told them the whole world is improving – just we aren’t doing it as well as others. The he comes up with a lulu: “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”.
And then, a classic: “Today’s announcement represents a significant step towards making the improvements to cancer care we all know are needed, a reality. The measures are ambitious but essential for delivering the world class cancer care services we all want to see. I’m confident the NHS can rise to this challenge.”
So by all that’s wonderful, WHAT HAVE THEY BEEN DOING FOR THE PAST TWENTY YEARS?
You gotta larf – otherwise you’d cry.