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Cancer doctor shortage ‘puts care at risk’

A shortage of cancer doctors will hamper the ability of the NHS to provide cutting-edge care, experts are warning.

A Royal College of Radiologists census of 62 major UK cancer centres found more than 7.5% of consultant posts were vacant, with services maintained only by large amounts of overtime.

It said this was unsustainable and would put treatments at risk.

But the NHS said plans were in place to increase doctor numbers.

Doctor training places are increasing, as is investment in the NHS.

But the college said this was not enough to cover the increases in demand for care, particularly given the number of doctors who are retiring.

Dr Tom Roques, from the college, said: “The UK is seeing more and more fantastic innovations in cancer treatment from the introduction of new immunotherapy drugs to high energy proton beam radiotherapy.

“These doctors are vital to the rollout of these new therapies but we do not have enough of them and our workforce projections are increasingly bleak.”

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