A Cancer Workforce in Crisis - Launch Press Release

16 November 2023

The European Cancer Organisation Launches Major Campaign to Support Cancer Care Professionals

16 November, Brussels - Shortages within the cancer workforce are having a profound impact.  Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are all struggling to cope. Each day more and more report burnout, forcing them to leave their professions. Those who remain are loaded with additional responsibilities, larger caseloads, and ever-taller stacks of paperwork, resulting in even less time with patients. This crisis is compromising patient care. Delays in diagnosis and treatment are growing, and more frequent mistakes are inevitable. Something must be done – and now. According to a recent landmark report, without decisive action, Europe is set to lack over 4 million cancer workers by 2030.

On Thursday 16 November, during the European Cancer Summit, the European Cancer Organisation (ECO), its member societies and supporting community are launching a new campaign to confront this problem: A Cancer Workforce in Crisis.

The campaign is providing new evidence, personal stories, and policy recommendations to bring about profound change in the cancer care workplace.

An international effort, gathering data to improve cancer workforce policy

The campaign A Cancer Workforce in Crisis is focused on:

  • Improving data on working conditions and current workforce shortages in cancer care, country by country across Europe. ECO is launching at the European Cancer Summit its own survey to evaluate the working conditions and quality of life of cancer care professionals.
  • Collecting first-person accounts from the men and women working on the frontlines of cancer care: how the crisis has affected their daily workload – and home life – and their ability to care for patients effectively. Read some of their stories here.
  • Providing policy recommendations and good practice examples to help national and European decision-makers respond to the crisis.


  • “I felt helpless, and I wasn't able to separate my personal life from my work life. Eventually, that led to extremely fast burnout”, shared a family medicine doctor from Croatia.
  • “After the pandemic, a lot of colleagues still suffer from exhaustion and often become demotivated”, said a German gastroenterologist.
  • “If we do get new colleagues, we struggle to find the time to give them proper training and guidance on the job once they start, which then in turn leads to insecurity, frustrations, and difficulty to retain people”, said a Dutch clinical pharmacist.

In light of the situation, Andreas Charalambous, President of ECO said “Healthy workforce drives healthy health systems and without a cancer workforce, there is no cancer care. There is little chance Europe can beat cancer if this cancer workforce crisis is not addressed in its full scope. We will continue our effort connecting policymakers and health professionals to ensure that they can care for patients effectively”.

A joint effort taking shape at the European Cancer Summit

The healthcare workforce crisis is one of the many key topics which will be addressed at the European Cancer Summit, taking place at the Radisson Collection Hotel Grand Place, in Brussels. The programme will feature Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; Illiana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation and Research; MEPs and leading figures from cancer care practice, academia, and patient groups The full programme and speaker list is available here.

About the European Cancer Organisation 

The European Cancer Organisation is the largest multi-professional cancer organisation in Europe. It helps reduce the burden of cancer, improve outcomes, and enhance the quality of care for cancer patients. As the not-for-profit federation of member organisations working across Europe, the European Cancer Organisation convenes cancer professionals and patients to agree on policy, advocate for change, and speak up for the European cancer community. More information is available here.

For more information, please contact

Alvaro Jimber
Communication Officer
European Cancer Organisation
+32 465 64 25 73