The Time to Act is Now. Action Report from Covid-19 & Cancer Workforce Special Network Meeting

03 June 2021

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a number of challenges to cancer care and management. These require timely and firm policy responses, backed up by robust intelligence and active campaigns, to ensure that services are not only more resilient to future challenges but also built back better than before.

Cancer patients and citizens, healthcare professionals, policymakers and health system leaders must not hold back from tackling cancer, despite all the disruption brought about by the pandemic. As such, cancer must remain at the top of everyone’s agenda, as the backlog of cancer cases is addressed and access to services, free of Covid-19, is maintained.

Key issues that emerged as the pandemic unfolded include the lack of early cancer detection, disruption to multidisciplinary and coordinated care, and the halting of clinical trials. These have been accompanied by increasing stress among patients and citizens, and higher rates of burnout among healthcare professionals as the pressures on systems mounted.

Comprehensive data on the impact of the pandemic is needed to understand and tackle these problems and make sure that they are not repeated. There is a need for greater access to speciality training to help healthcare professionals deal with evolving clinical realities, and the workforce shortages and often difficult working conditions that have been exacerbated by the pandemic need to be addressed.

Alongside the difficulties, the Covid-19 pandemic offers opportunities for rebuilding cancer services, but this cannot be achieved without clear policy recommendations and a deep understanding of the current situation. Above all, the Time to Act is now.

Download the Action Report here.