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The SACT capacity crisis in the NHS


The Royal College of Radiologists has produced an important briefing outlining the most pressing problem oncology departments across the UK are facing – a critical lack of capacity to deliver systemic anti-cancer therapies (SACT) to patients.

  • In recent years, demand for SACT has surged. The rate of treatment delivery is rising approximately 6-8% per annum.
  • At the same time, advances in drug discovery have led to a rise in the number of treatments available on the NHS. These innovations are welcome, but the absence of any planning measures has a major impact on oncology services’ capacity.

Overstretched oncology departments are struggling to keep pace or to make the case for more investment.

  • To meet the increased demand for SACT treatments, oncology departments are having to compromise patient safety and increase pressure on overworked staff.
  • Some departments are having to make difficult decisions over whether to withdraw access to CDF-approved treatments or prioritise which patients can receive treatment within an optimal timescale.

The NHS and local health systems must take urgent action to ensure that departments are not forced to withdraw treatments and patients are not put at risk of delayed or ineffective care. This briefing outlines the actions that NHS England can take to support healthcare professionals to deliver timely treatment to patients.

To raise awareness of this issue, the RCR, in collaboration with the Association of Cancer Physicians (ACP), British Oncology Pharmacy Association (BOPA), and UK Oncology Nursing Society (UKONS) have written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care outlining the challenge and requesting to meet.

Download the letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We urge the Government and NHS England to meet to discuss our recommendations for how we can work together to ensure that patients continue to receive access to life-saving cancer treatments.

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