Thousands of Londoners diagnosed with cancer are being ‘left in the dark amid record NHS vacancies and unmanageable staff workloads


Thousands of people diagnosed with cancer in London – at least 12,700 a year[iv] – are being ‘left in the dark’ as they miss out on key information, amid record NHS vacancies and unmanageable staff workloads across England, a leading cancer charity has warned today.

With new analysis from Macmillan Cancer Support finding that 1 in 5 London cancer patients feel there aren’t always enough nurses to care for them in hospital following an operation or overnight stay, Justin Robertson (26) from Wimbledon, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of just 24, explains why he fears for fellow cancer patients:

“If I’d have gone into a treatment room and there hadn’t have been the specialists that were there for me, I would have been a lot more nervous, a lot more scared and a lot more anxious.

“Not only in the moment of having the treatment and sitting watching the drugs pour into my system, but also scared of what was going to happen afterwards. Having someone there to reassure you when things get hard and that their support will continue to be there – that’s something that I’ll always be thankful for.

“With the ongoing pressures on the NHS, I think it’s a scary time for people who might be experiencing cancer and going through treatment. Which patients in the future might not be able to receive that same level of support I had? It’s a really daunting prospect that, without the funding and without the support, the level of care and attention that Macmillan and the NHS want to provide might ultimately not be able to continue in the same way.”

Justin, who is now in remission, was part of a photography shoot, helmed by singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor, whose stepfather and grandparents have been affected by cancer and supported by Macmillan, and celebrity photographer Nicky Johnston, in collaboration with the charity on its #SaveOurSupport campaign, to create a series of striking images bringing to life some of the support gap moments for people living with cancer.

New figures from Macmillan Cancer Support reveal around one in six (17%) of those recently treated for cancer[v] – around 5,200 people each year in London alone – did not have their treatment options fully explained before starting treatment.

Meanwhile more than 1 in 4 (27%) – around 8,500 people a year – did not have the possible side-effects of treatment fully explained before starting treatment, and more than a third (41%)[ix] – around 12,700 people each year[x] – said the longer-term side-effects of treatment were not fully explained.

Macmillan warns that without this information and support, patients may feel uncertain about treatment, feel forced to give up a job they love or feel unsure about how to prepare for the impact cancer might have on them physically, financially and emotionally.