My job

Raising the profile of mesothelioma in Wales

Earlier this year, Sarah Morgan was appointed as mesothelioma clinical nurse specialist (CNS) for Wales.

Earlier this year, Sarah Morgan was appointed as mesothelioma clinical nurse specialist (CNS) for Wales. The new post is funded by Mesothelioma UK, a national charity that is dedicated to this asbestos-related cancer.

Sarah Morgan

She became the 13th addition to Mesothelioma UK’s specialist nurse team and the only CNS in Wales for this cancer, which she says is a ‘great privilege’.

‘Although the Mesothelioma UK specialist nurses are based far and wide around the UK, we are a close-knit bunch,’ she explains. ‘We are in touch with one another on a daily basis to discuss patient issues, seek advice and enquire about clinical trials that are opening. It is an interesting specialty as things are moving quite quickly in lung cancer and mesothelioma with new treatments and investigations.’

Combination role

Her new role is based at Bronglais Hospital in Aberystwyth, part of Hywel Dda University Health Board, which she joined in 2008 when she became a Macmillan CNS. She combines this role with her new two-day a week post.

Career highlights

  • 1979 Pupil nurse, Wittington Hospital
  • 1994 Community Staff Nurse, Carmarthenshire NHS Trust
  • 1998 Parkinson’s CNS, Glangwili General Hospital, Carmarthen
  • 2000 Palliative Care CNS, Papworth Hospital, Cambridge
  • 2004 Macmillan CNS in Palliative Care, Withybush Hospital, Hywel Dda University Health Board
  • 2008-present Macmillan Lung Cancer CNS, Hywel Dda University Health Board
  • 2017 Mesothelioma UK CNS for Wales

She says health professionals have responded positively since she began the role in April. ‘They are delighted that there is someone there with specialist expertise and access to resources,’ she says.

‘My role is a supporting and advisory one – liaising with all the specialist teams throughout Wales to ensure they have access to the information and resources they need, although I do also carry my own caseload of mesothelioma patients,’ she says.

In addition, Ms Morgan provides advice and support to patients via the charity’s free helpline.

Raising the profile

More than 2,600 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK.

Ms Morgan says being the only mesothelioma CNS in Wales is ‘a little daunting’ but she is keen to use the opportunity to raise the profile of mesothelioma and to influence the development of specialist services across Wales, with the aim of seeing more specialist nurses for the condition across the country.

‘I’m extremely passionate about raising the profile of mesothelioma across Wales and this latest post is an amazing role to have’

She is a member of the All Wales Lung Cancer Forum, the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses and has also presented at the National Assembly for Wales and sits on their cross-party group on cancer.

‘Another important aspect of my role is to influence Welsh Government and raise awareness to provide more centrally-funded support and care for mesothelioma patients,’ she adds.

Award-winning service

In her Macmillan role at Bronglais Hospital, Ms Morgan was tasked with setting up the lung cancer specialist nurse service. Her work included setting up a patient support group and a number of nurse-led clinics. This was formally recognised at the Hywel Dda Best of Health Staff Awards in 2015 when Ms Morgan was awarded for improving patient experience.

She explains how her career path has been influenced by her personal experience with lung cancer as both her mother and father passed away because of the disease. Her father was diagnosed when she was 12. ‘Moving into the specialty just felt like a natural progression,’ she says.

She advises newly-qualified nurse specialists to regularly seek support from colleagues, saying: ‘Working as a lung cancer CNS can be a challenging role, emotionally and psychologically. Regularly talking to colleagues just to exchange thoughts or chat about how your day or week has gone is so important.’

She adds: ‘It is important to love what you do and be able to translate that to your patients.’

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