New report urges “rethink of European cancer services” to meet future demand for care

A new report published today [11 October] is calling for a wide-spread re-think of Europe’s cancer services, to improve support for healthcare workers and to ensure sustainable and equal care for all patients.

Commissioned by the EFPIA Oncology Platform and endorsed by 14 organisations - including healthcare professional associations, patient organisations, and academics - the research by Vintura, shows that oncology services in Europe are facing a number of critical challenges, with growing demand for cancer services out stripping the growth of the healthcare workforce.

With five new cancer patients diagnosed every minute in Europe, experts estimate that the region will see a shortage of 4.1 million healthcare workers by 2030. This puts significant pressure on oncology care, resulting in delayed diagnoses and poorer health outcomes for patients. It will also lead to more pressurised staff - and the subsequent negative impact on their mental health - as well as an increasing number of staff shortages and longer waiting lists, all of which impact on the ability to provide stable cancer services. It also puts at risk the Europe Cancer Mission goal to save 3million lives by 2030.

The report cites three root causes driving the gap between the needs of European patients and the capacity of the cancer care workforce to deliver:

  • European populations are growing and ageing, increasing demand for services
  • Productivity in healthcare is not increasing in contrast to other industries
  • The healthcare workforce is not growing with demand for oncology care

It also shows how Covid-19 has exacerbated the issues, for example, through delayed access to screening and diagnosis for patients. For staff, the pandemic also meant that the effort and time it took to treat patients increased, with staff also facing the challenges of high infection rates and burnout.

The report has identified ten case studies of innovative practice in cancer care across Europe, which if adopted at scale could bring substantial benefit to patients and health systems in all Member States. Of the ten case studies, four were selected to analyse the potential to scale up and roll out these practices more widely, and the benefits for patients and health professionals.

These include:  

  • Huma - Remote Patient Monitoring (Germany): Shortening the post-surgery length of stay for colorectal cancer patients through RPM has the potential to significantly lighten nurse workload.
  • ai - artificial intelligence diagnostics (Italy): The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in lung cancer screening has the potential to reduce radiologist workload by 15%.
  • SkinVision - self-screening tests (Germany): SkinVision can reduce unnecessary visit to GP or dermatologist and empowering early detection of skin cancer through advanced home image analysis.
  • ColoAlert – Remote diagnostics (UK): Used to reduce the overuse of colonoscopy and unnecessary visit to hospital using self- diagnostics tool.

Nathalie Moll, Director General at EFPIA, said: “This report highlights how innovation in cancer care can help address workforce issues, increase efficiency and reduce costs for healthcare systems, as well as improving the lives of millions of patients in Europe.

If we are to meet the challenges facing cancer care in Europe we need to act now by creating the right conditions at an EU level to allow innovation to flourish in the region as well as implementing effective efficiency-realising treatments and diagnostics at a local level.”

Read the full report here