Skin cancer workforce exhausted as cases rise!!

One in 7 specialist skin cancer nurses are suffering from exhaustion due to rise in cases, a new report has found.

The report, published by charity Melanoma Focus, is the first census of Skin Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) and highlights how crucial these professionals are in helping to tackle rising case levels.


‘I used to have a busy clinic with around 35 patients (half melanoma stage 3 upwards). Now my clinics have 50 patients, plus 10 to 30 telephone calls to make. It has tripled in three years. There’s no way I can support those patients as well as I was able to’ said one Skin Cancer CNS quoted in the report.

Melanoma is now one of the top 5 most commonly diagnosed cancers in the UK, with more than 6 people being diagnosed every day.


Jackie Hodgetts, Melanoma Nurse Clinician and Trustee of Melanoma Focus shared her concern, saying: ‘the current situation is unsustainable. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer but advances in treatments have revolutionised patients’ chances of survival. While this is extremely positive, cases are increasingly complex and increasing workloads mean that fewer patients are receiving the essential holistic support of a Skin Cancer CNS.’


Out of the 97% of Trusts that employ at least one Skin Cancer CNS, 82% have seen workload increase.


Susanna Daniels, CEO of Melanoma Focus called on the Government ‘to develop cancer workforce plans that ensure investment and resources to enable every melanoma skin cancer patient to receive the support of a Skin Cancer CNS’.


“Our cancer nursing workforce is facing a nationwide crisis. Without immediate and significant action from the Government, people living with cancer will continue to experience highly distressing delays in diagnosis and treatment. These waits cause immense anxiety, as well as potentially impact on their quality of care and prognosis. This needs to change now,’ said Minesh Patel, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support.


‘Macmillan research shows that over 3,300 additional nurses are needed in England alone by 2030 to help ensure people with cancer get the care and support they need and expect. The Government must use the upcoming 10 Year Cancer Plan to show how it plans to tackle the staffing gaps at every stage of the cancer pathway. This must include details on how it will train and retain more cancer professionals, so that more people with cancer are able to access a standard of care which helps them to live well with cancer, not just survive.’