Only 38% of leukaemia patients have access to specialist nurses, says blood cancer charity, Leukaemia Care.
A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is key member of a patients’ care team. They provide emotional and physical support, as well as expertise in a particular cancer type.
The findings, published in a new report from Leukaemia Care entitled, ‘CNS Matters’ highlight the low numbers of leukaemia patients who have access to a CNS; the figures are in stark contrast to NHS England targets, which say that by 2020, all cancer patients should have access to a specialist nurse.
The report also highlighted that, of those who do not have a CNS, 66% were not offered any additional support. Leukaemia Care Chief Executive, Monica Izmajlowicz, says: “2019 leukaemia patients took part in our survey, with a combination of those who had access to a CNS and those who didn’t. We discovered only 38% had access and as a result were better supported, had an increased understanding at various stages of their journey and felt more involved in their decisions. Additionally, they felt more positive compared to patients who only had access to other support services.”
Leukaemia Care also issued 210 Freedom of Information Requests to NHS trusts to understand CNS availability across regions within England, the extent of CNS specialisation and to assess whether NHS burden, or lack of training, could be impacting CNS numbers and access. The results revealed shortages in the nursing workforce had a huge impact on the availability of CNS, particularly over busy periods like winter, and that only 25% of trusts have a leukaemia specific CNS.
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s 2017 Budget recently unveiled £2.8 billion in additional funding to the NHS including an additional £350 million for this winter to help under pressure hospitals and GPs. He said: “Our nation’s nurses provide invaluable support to us all in our time of greatest need and deserve our deepest gratitude for their tireless efforts.”
Leukaemia Care wants to show exactly why #myCNSmatters and is inviting patients and professionals to voice their experiences on social media. Leukaemia Care hope to have the message heard by key stakeholders and NHS trusts so that, entering the New Year, CNS access is firmly on the agenda.
To improve CNS access across the UK, Leukaemia Care recommends ensuring patients are introduced to their CNS from diagnosis, as this appointment can make a huge impact for the subsequent journey of a patient. They also suggest increasing the specialisation of CNS to alleviate pressure and improve staff training in specific disease areas, to ensure that patients are receiving the best possible management of their blood cancer type. The hardest, but most crucial task of all, is to ensure that CNS levels are keeping pace with the ever-increasing number of cancer patients.
To find out more about the #myCNSmatters campaign visit www.leukaemiacare.org.uk/my-CNS-matters.
For more information on Leukaemia Care please visit www.leukaemiacare.org.uk or call FREE from landlines & most major mobile networks on 08088 010 444.