One-fifth of workers with cancer feel under pressure to return to work

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More than one-fifth (23%) of workers diagnosed with cancer feel pressured to return to work after their treatment has finished, research has suggested.

However, the survey by health insurer and healthcare provider Bupa, also found that just 6% of those who said they had felt under pressure said this pressure had come from an employer or colleagues.

One-fifth of workers returning to work post-cancer expressed worries over whether or not they would still feel up to doing their job, either physically or emotionally, while one-third felt there could be greater awareness among employers about the challenges of returning to work following cancer.

The finding has come in the wake of research late last year from Macmillan Cancer Support, which argued that more than 1,000 people in the UK will be being diagnosed with cancer every day by December 2016. This is 100,000 more each year compared with 20 years ago.

The charity also warned in January that a record 2.5 million people in the UK are now living with cancer, an increase of half a million in just five years, and it has estimated there may be as many as 700,000 cancer “survivors” of working age.

Jayne Molyneux, cancer healthcare manager at Bupa, said of its research: “Many patients [33%] would have found it helpful if there was a greater awareness among employers about the ongoing effects of cancer after treatment.

“Therefore, employers and colleagues must be aware that not everyone responds to being back in their job in the same way and will require ongoing support in different ways.”

Last autumn, Macmillan launched a programme called Macmillan at Work, which was designed to give employers access to training, toolkits and consultancy support to help them better support workers returning to work following diagnosis of, or treatment for, cancer.

In a separate development, the insurer Friends Life launched what it argued was the first employer-funded cancer-specific workplace benefit in the UK  in January. The Friends Life Group Cancer Cover plan pays a fixed £25,000 sum to those diagnosed with cancer and who are covered by the plan.

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