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Early intervention can help cope with 21st century demands

Speaking at the inaugural Cancer Nursing Practice conference in Manchester, Sara Faithfull discusses nurses meeting the demands that 21st-century patients face.

Speaking at the inaugural Cancer Nursing Practice conference in Manchester, Sara Faithfull discusses nurses meeting the demands that 21st-century patients face

Cancer nurses will have to switch their focus towards early intervention and prevention to keep pace with the demands of the 21st century.

University of Surrey's clinical innovation lead Sara Faithfull also foresees a much greater community role for specialist nurses like herself as the cancer landscape continues to change.

Using her keynote speech at Cancer Nursing Practices inaugural conference, Professor Faithfull explained her belief that it is time to change the characteristics of the workforce.

She said: By 2030 there is predicted to have been a substantive rise in cancer diagnosis, but also a considerable reduction in cancer deaths.

More patients than ever will be surviving the disease, but then living with the burden

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Speaking at the inaugural Cancer Nursing Practice conference in Manchester, Sara Faithfull discusses nurses meeting the demands that 21st-century patients face


Sara Faithfull. Picture: Neil O'Connor

Cancer nurses will have to switch their focus towards early intervention and prevention to keep pace with the demands of the 21st century.

University of Surrey's clinical innovation lead Sara Faithfull also foresees ‘a much greater community role’ for specialist nurses like herself as the cancer landscape continues to change.

Using her keynote speech at Cancer Nursing Practice’s inaugural conference, Professor Faithfull explained her belief that it is time to ‘change the characteristics of the workforce’.

She said: ‘By 2030 there is predicted to have been a substantive rise in cancer diagnosis, but also a considerable reduction in cancer deaths.

‘More patients than ever will be surviving the disease, but then living with the burden of long-term consequences that require ongoing care.’

'Lagging behind'

She explained how co-morbidities such as obesity and diabetes – as well as alcohol and smoking dependency – will continue to cause cancer rate rises, while deprivation and inequalities will drive regional differences.

Professor Faithfull asked the audience in Manchester: ‘Are you at a patient’s bedside, or managing others? Are you pushing paperwork to meet targets instead of driving change?

‘We are lagging behind the rest of Europe on early diagnosis and so nurses have got to be more involved in prevention programmes in future.

‘We can no longer be single silo in the 21st Century, we need to work closely with our colleagues in social care and the community.

‘There will also be a big part to play for the recently introduced roles of apprentice nurses and nursing associates.

‘The groups most at risk of cancer are the ones which are traditionally hardest to reach, that needs to change.

‘Perhaps we run clinics in sport clubs, or job centres, to improve access? It is also vital we collect data as we go along to demonstrate the effectiveness of nurse-led care provision.

‘We cannot carry on doing things the way we have always done, we have to rebuild what we do.’

In it for the long haul: the nurse that travelled more than 4,500 miles to attend the conference

Among the dozens of nurses attending the Cancer Nursing Practice conference many came from far and wide across the UK – but few can have travelled further than Rosemary Wasti.

The clinical resource nurse travelled more than 4,500 miles from her home in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to the Christie Hospital in Manchester.

Ms Wasti, a former Sheffield-based cancer research nurse, who moved to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City Hospital nine years ago, explained what motivated her to make the journey.

She said: ‘I wanted an experience. I also wanted to see for myself how nursing has changed in the nine years since I left England, and the answer is it’s changed beyond all expectation.

Cultural differences

Ms Wasti explained how in Abu Dhabi, the dominant religion is Islam and followers there believe that illnesses like cancer are sent by Allah as a challenge.

She said: ‘Obviously, there are many cultural differences between our two countries. In fact, they were the first thing I had to deal with when I arrived – accepting that how I felt about health is not the same as locals.

‘Many of their perceptions have come down through generations and I’m not going to be able to change those.

‘However, people are still afraid of death, but they cope with it by the belief there is a better time to come in the afterlife.'

Ms Wasti, who works with oncology and haematology nurses, added: ‘From this conference I will take away the importance of educating the public about the wider aspects of health.

‘Over there we deal primarily with the disease itself, we don’t health screen for other conditions and co-morbidities because it does not fit with the insurance system the country uses.

‘Because the majority of patients are just ‘passing through’ we don’t tend to think about survivorship and how they will live after treatment.’

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