I’m sure you’ve heard the news today based on research by Macmillan that by 2020 almost half of Britons will get cancer in their lifetime although 38% will not die from the disease.
The growth in the number of people getting cancer is due to overall improvement in life expectancy. The reduction in the proportion of those diagnosed who die of their cancer is because of a greater focus on early diagnosis, advances in cancer treatments and better cancer care. This is actually very good news.
Of course, all of this means that more and more people of working age will be living and working with a cancer diagnosis and employers (just as much as the NHS and the social care sector), will need to factor this into their workforce planning and support. The trouble is very few employers do this, or even think of it until they are confronted with the problem. Lots of organisations spend thousands of pounds each year on donations to cancer charities and that’s wonderful, I wouldn’t want that to change for a moment, but I wonder how many actually support their own employees to return to or remain in work after a cancer diagnosis. Rather too many quietly encourage them to leave.
So will good old British short termism and ‘muddling through’ continue to be the way employers treat this new information? I fear that the answer to this is the bad news!