OVERSTRETCHED nursing staff working in cancer wards feel they are letting patients down because they have no time to offer emotional support, a cancer charity has warned.

Macmillan Cancer Support said was “heartbreaking” to hear staff tell the charity they feel they are “letting patients down.”

New figures show the number of people living with a diagnosis of cancer in Scotland has soared to nearly 250,000, an estimated 15% increase from 2015, when 220,000 people were living with the illness or its aftermath.

Ashley Smith, 30, from Glasgow, had to stay in hospital for five days at a time when she was going through treatment for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year and says there was no-one around when she “crumbled emotionally.”

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She said: “The nurses really try their best, but they don’t have any time. They’re great on the medical side. They would come in and do all the tests and checks and were always nice, but there were a few times I crumbled emotionally and no-one was around.

“I’m lucky that I have my family, but when you’re in hospital for a long time, there’s a lot of time spent alone.

“It would be good if the staff had more time to talk to patients and listen to how they’re feeling as it can be really hard being in hospital with all the racing thoughts and worries.”

Janice Preston, Head of Macmillan in Scotland, Janice Preston, said: “The staff who work in the NHS and social care do some of the toughest jobs in the country.

“They want to give people with cancer the care and support they deserve, but they’re struggling under the weight of the ever-increasing numbers of people who need their help.”