Nottingham rations cancer care due to lack of staff

More than a decade of frozen funding has brought the NHS to a shocking new stage of crisis, in which cancer treatment in one of the country’s leading hospitals last month had to be rationed for lack of staff, with some patients denied continuing care. Patients are having to be selected for treatment on the basis of how likely they are to survive and recover, meaning that palliative care is being cut back.

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust said  they “expect to be in a position to restart chemotherapy for all patients who require it in October.” But while the Trust has admitted to the problem, the state of affairs was only initially revealed in a blog by cancer specialist Lucy Gossage, who says:

“Right now we don’t have the staffing capacity to deliver chemotherapy to all our patients and so, for the first time, the prioritisation list has come into force. And that means that, currently, we are unable to offer chemotherapy that aims to prolong life or palliate symptoms for many people with advanced cancer. We hope this is very temporary, but it’s indicative of a system on its last legs…”

The Nottingham restrictions are in line with contingency plans drawn up in March 2020 as the pandemic was growing to its peak, but come at a time when waiting lists are growing and the focus is on reducing the level of pent-up and delayed demand for cancer treatment.

Full story in The Lowdown, 4 October 2021