Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, has announced an £11.5m expansion to the specialist cancer nursing (CNS) workforce, creating around 60 new specialist cancer nursing and support worker posts over the next five years.
Minister Hamilton revealed that the additional posts would be funded by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), in partnership with two charities. The HSCB will invest £2.4 million, Macmillan Cancer Support will provide a £7 million investment and Friends of the Cancer Centre have pledged a further £2.1m.
Minister Hamilton said; “More cancer specialist nurses are needed in Northern Ireland, and this significant investment will create around 60 new posts which is excellent news for local patients. The new Clinical Nurse Specialists and support workers will be spread across all five health trusts and will focus on different cancer types, according to current patient need.
“Clinical nurse specialists work at the front line of cancer care, providing patient with support during and after treatment. They are the main point of contact for patients and their families, play a vital role in the coordination of care, and ensure that patients receive the holistic support they need to meet their clinical and emotional needs. They are greatly valued by patients and this investment will benefit patients directly with more nurses on the ground.”
In 2014, Macmillan Cancer Support commissioned a census of clinical nurse specialist provision across the UK. Heather Monteverde, Head of Macmillan Cancer Support NI, said: “Macmillan first established clinical nurse specialists in the 1970s and we have been campaigning for the last 10 years to increase clinical nurse specialist numbers here in Northern Ireland.
“We have been working closely with the Health and Social Care Board and are delighted to be able to invest £7 million pounds over the next five years to ensure that newly diagnosed patients are supported by a clinical nurse specialists - wherever they live, whatever type of cancer they have, and whichever hospital they attend for treatment.”
Colleen Shaw, Chief Executive of Friends of the Cancer Centre, said: “Friends of the Cancer Centre is committed to ensuring that cancer patients in Northern Ireland have access to the best possible care and we see clinical nurse specialists as a vital part in this. As a local charity we are delighted to invest £2.1 million into the future of specialist nursing which will benefit patients across Northern Ireland."
Notes to editors:
1. All women in Northern Ireland who are diagnosed with breast cancer get the support of a CNS. However, people with other types of cancer may not have the same access to a CNS. The creation of new specialist nursing posts is designed to fill the existing gaps in service provision.
2. The Public Health Agency, together with the Health and Social Care Board, Northern Ireland Cancer Network (NICaN) and all five Trusts have identified where there are gaps in specialist nursing provision and where support workers are needed to maximise capacity and allow more effective use of nursing time.
3. The additional posts include 42.8 whole time equivalent (WTE) CNS posts and 19.6 WTE support worker posts.
4. Gaps in CNS provision have been identified by the following reports:
- Northern Ireland Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2015
- Specialist adult cancer nurses in Northern Ireland. A census of the specialist adult cancer nursing workforce in the UK, 2014
5. Media queries about this press release to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0567, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthserviceni
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