Recovery and redesign: cancer services - action plan

In response to the pandemic, we have adapted to new circumstances in which cancer services continue to operate. The plan details actions that will both redesign cancer services to benefit patients, and increase our services’ overall resilience to future rises in COVID-19 prevalence.


We fully recognise the immense pressures the NHS, including all those involved in cancer services, has been put under over the past few months as a result of COVID-19. Creating a sustainable workforce to care for those with a cancer diagnosis is an integral part of this recovery plan. Between September 2006 and September 2020, we have seen an 89.6% increase in consultant oncologists and we’ve increased consultant radiologists by 54.4%. We are exploring new ways to support our existing workforce and opportunities to foster the talents we have here in Scotland. This will ensure individuals within our local workforce have equitable access to opportunities for career development and to maintain excellent services while COVID-19 remains a risk, and beyond.

Keeping our workforce safe, for their own health, and the health of the patients they are treating, continues to be a priority. Priority access to PPE and routine testing among healthcare workers within cancer wards will continue.

49. There are opportunities to increase patient time with Cancer Nurse Specialists, supporting a smoother patient journey. We will work with the Scottish Cancer Lead Nurse / Nurse Consultant Group to support the enhancement of the CNS role including by determining which tasks can be reallocated.

50. All healthcare workers in specialist cancer wards will continue to be offered weekly testing to help minimise the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 in Scotland and determine whether this testing strategy continues to be appropriate.

51. The Health and Care (Staffing)(Scotland) Act (2019) provides a statutory basis for the provision of appropriate staffing and enabling safe and high quality care. We will work with Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Healthcare Staffing Programme to ensure that future workload and workforce requirements in cancer services can be appropriately planned.

52. Clinical leadership and advice are a key component of continuous improvement in cancer services and nurturing the next generation of clinical leaders, including primary care, will be vital to this. We will, by June 2021, provide guidance to Health Boards on how they can support this approach.

53. To manage retirement, return to work, and embrace flexible working practices we will endorse the Flying Finish workforce challenge across all staff groups, including cancer services. This challenge will be used to identify, create and connect work streams around end of career planning and enable meaningful career longevity.

Table 5: Timeline for completion of workforce actions
Description below

The graphic shows a timeline, displaying the end of each quarter and running from December 2020 to March 2023, and the expected completion times for action points 49 to 53, as described above. Action point 49 is shown to contain 3 parts, a working group completed by March 2021, the consultation and final proposal completed by September 2021, and the National guidance completed before December 2021.

Points 50, 51 and 53 will be completed by March 2023, with point 52 scheduled to be completed by June 2021.



Back to top