Better outcomes, better experiences: why cancer nursing is a job for specialists

Onderstaand een artikel in cancerworld waarin de rol en positie van oncologieverpleegkundigen in Europa wordt besproken. O.a. Susan Ras (voorzitter commissie Oncologica van V&N Oncologie) is hiervoor geinterviewd.

The European Oncology Nursing Society has compiled the evidence to show the value of the work cancer nurses do, and the specialist training and education they need to do it. Now they’re calling on policy makers to recognise cancer nursing skills, as outlined in the EONS Education Framework, as a speciality across Europe. Kate Griffin reports.

“When we first started, people asked: ‘What do we need clinical nurse specialists for?’” Janet Hayden, clinical nurse specialist at King’s College Hospital in London, has seen big changes over her 14 years in the role. “What’s happened is this huge shift. Now we’re so embedded within the service it can’t run without us.”

Her team isn’t an exception. Specialist cancer nurses all over Europe are seeing their roles expand, sometimes to cover areas that were formerly the responsibility of doctors. A position paper from ECCO, the European Cancer Organisation, suggests that this trend should go further, as a way of addressing the shortage of doctors in the context of increasing demand for cancer services. “Optimising the contribution of each profession… [would] ensure the best possible patient outcomes.” ECCO suggests that more nurses should, for example, prescribe medicines and undertake clinical investigations.

Janet Hayden explains what this shift means for her team at King’s. “The clinical nurse specialist role has evolved for multiple reasons – not just to meet patient needs and expectations but also to meet service needs and fill the junior doctor deficit. When I think about what the junior doctors used to do years ago, we do most of it now. Patient follow-up, discharge planning, all of those sorts of things. The doctors used to arrange the patient’s admission, but now we do all of it. Arranging for lines to be put in, organising the tests before they come, organising their beds and acting as a central point of communication with the whole team – as well as the patient.”


For most cancer patients, nurses are their first or main point of contact. Nurses are there when you’re having a routine screening, they support you when you’re diagnosed, they’re the first person you see when you come round from surgery, they help you manage the side effects of chemotherapy. Having the same nurse as your designated key worker throughout your cancer journey helps patients navigate the complexities of the system at a bewildering, frightening time.

It’s the multi-faceted nature of the nursing role, combined with the fact that nurses are the largest group of cancer professionals, which gives nursing such great potential for optimising its contribution.

Realising the full potential of nurses to do what they do best needs to start with describing the wide range of contributions to care they are already making. Achieving such a description is the goal of an ambitious research project currently in progress. RECaN (Recognising European Cancer Nursing) has been gathering evidence on what cancer nurses are contributing to patient outcomes.

It is led by the European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS) and supported by ECCO.

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