A survey of nearly all NHS trusts in the UK has found that only 21% had one or more clinical nurse specialist dedicated to secondary (terminal) care.
The story has been all over the print and broadcast media:
Terminal breast cancer patients ‘abandoned’ in nurse shortage – BBC …https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45837563
Thousands of breast cancer patients ‘abandoned’ amid nurse shortage
Terminal breast cancer patients ‘abandoned by NHS trusts’ in nurse …https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/…/terminal-breast-cancer-patients-abandoned-by-n…
The BCC report has no breakdown enabling us to compare provision in Scotland with that elsewhere. However, it is possible to compare the apparent state of awareness, readiness or perhaps even willingness to address this problem in England, Scotland and Wales respectively. The report states:
For England: The Cancer Strategy for England currently states that NHS England and the Trust Development Authority should encourage providers to ensure that all patients have access to a CNS or other key worker from diagnosis onwards, to guide them through treatment options and ensure they receive the appropriate information and support. Breast Cancer Care welcomes this position, but we also acknowledge that since the publication of the strategy there has been little published progress in this area.
For Scotland: Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action for Scotland states that the Scottish Government will put the ‘necessary levels of training in place to ensure that by 2021 people with cancer who need it have access to a specialist nurse during and after their treatment and care’. It also states that workforce planning for cancer will move to be undertaken on a national basis over time, and will ensure that workforce planning for cancer will span the entire cancer pathway, complementing Everyone Matters, another Scottish cancer policy document that states that the Scottish Government will strengthen workforce planning to ensure the ‘right people, in the right numbers, are in the right place at the right time’ to deliver seamless healthcare.
For Wales: Wales Cancer Delivery Plan states that a key worker (a person responsible for coordination of care that is usually a CNS) can make a significant difference in a person’s experience of cancer services, acknowledging that the cancer pathway is complex, and that this person is fundamental to help the patient navigate the pathway and ensure a smooth patient journey. (Page 25)
The English and Welsh statements are only vague statements of good intention with no actual strategy in place. The Scottish situation has clear evidence of a strategy with a 2021 target in place and of a commitment by the Scottish Government to implement it. The Breast Cancer Care document might have more honest in foregrounding, influencing, perhaps, more accurate reporting.
More on nurse shortages generally:
More on cancer care: