The care of patients with cancer in the UK is being affected by overstretched chemotherapy units struggling to cope with the number of cases on their books, recent research suggests.

A survey undertaken by Roche UK found that almost 85% of oncology pharmacists and 75% of oncology nurses felt low capacity in cancer services is having either some or a significant negative impact on patient care.

This is being driven by improved diagnosis and better treatment options which help improve survival, but are not met with the necessary increase in resource to alleviate the growing pressures on chemotherapy units, thus impacting on the quality of care, explained Elaine Lennan, Consultant Chemotherapy Nurse, University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

“With the political agenda keeping the spotlight on efficiency within the NHS, all staff working to support oncology services need to look for solutions to increase capacity within the system to the benefit of the individuals we are caring for,” she stressed.

Looking forward, survey respondent didn’t seem confident over an improvement, with 90% of nurses and 78% of pharmacists expecting their chemotherapy units to experience capacity issues in the future, and around half believing capacity issues will result in longer waiting lists for cancer treatment in the NHS.