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50,000 employees have second full-time job as cancer carers, says Macmillan

More than 50,000 UK workers may be providing over a week's worth of care a year to look after someone with cancer, despite having a full-time job.

Research by cancer support group Macmillan has revealed that just under half (46%) of people caring for someone with cancer are in full-time work, representing around 500,000 people in the UK. Of these, one in nine (11%) provide more than 35 hours of care a week, equating to around 50,000 people.

The research also showed carers are having to take regular sick and annual leave in order to meet the demands of caring, because their employer is failing to offer them flexible working hours.

In total, more than one on six (16%) people caring for someone with cancer provide more than 35 hours a week of support. One in 10 – or around 100,000 people in the UK – provides 50 hours or more of care each week.

Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

"Dealing with the relentless physical and emotional pressures of caring for someone with cancer is hard enough; combining it with a full-time job is extremely difficult and can drive carers to breaking point.

"To state the obvious, as the number of people living with cancer doubles in the next 20 years from two to four million, the number of carers is also going to increase.

Devane added: "It's vitally important cancer carers are fully supported both at home and at work to enable them to cope with the tough demands of their role. If they are left to struggle on their own it will cost carers their health and even their job. It will also put a significant strain on the NHS."

Kate Henwood, 42, from Sussex, worked as a full-time childminder while caring for her husband. She said: "For more than a year I juggled a full-time job with caring for my terminally ill husband and our young son. Being a carer is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting, and I was permanently 'on duty'.

It left me with no time or energy for myself. I didn't sleep well and usually had to cope with no more than four hours a night."

The research was carried out by market research firm Ipsos. It surveyed 18,449 UK workers to identify carers of someone with cancer. In total 386 fitted eligibility criteria and were interviewed in more depth.