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Prostate cancer specialist nursing seen under threat

Action needed to avoid shortfall as the number of prostate cancer specialist nurses dwindles and patients increase, charity says

Action needed to avoid shortfall as the number of prostate cancer specialist nurses dwindles and patients increase, charity says

Picture shows an older man being handed a booklet on prostate cancer by a nurse. The prostate cancer specialist nursing workforce could collapse within the next decade unless urgent action is taken, according to researchers.
Picture: John Houlihan

The prostate cancer specialist nursing workforce could collapse within the next decade unless urgent action is taken, according to researchers.

A survey of almost 100 UK clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) working with men affected by prostate cancer found that 42% were approaching retirement, or intended to leave nursing within the next 10 years.

Strain on existing workforce

The poll by charity Prostate Cancer UK laid bare the strain being placed on the existing workforce. Findings included:

  • 87% regularly worked unpaid overtime, and over one in 10 (12%) worked more than 10 extra hours each week.
  • One in five (21%) reported an unfilled role in their team.
  • Almost a third (31%) reported a current caseload of more than 600 patients.

There are currently 463 urology CNS posts in England, but Prostate Cancer UK says this needs to grow to nearly 1,000 over the next decade to meet demand.

Prostate Cancer UK director of support and influencing Heather Blake said: ‘Without urgent action there will simply not be enough nurses to cope with the increasing number of men who are diagnosed.

‘The survey also shows that more needs to be done to support the existing workforce, as too many of them are overstretched, overworked and underappreciated. We want to work with decision makers to explore creative ways to support the workforce more widely.’

‘Without a bold strategy from NHS providers across the UK, both to increase nurse numbers and reduce the excessive burden on current nurses, thousands of men could miss out on the support they need.’

‘CNSs are so important to support men like me’

Picture of Simon Lord, who was supported by a CNS during his prostate cancer treatment. He now works as a personal trainer alongside a specialist nurse to support men recovering from prostate cancer.Simon Lord was supported by a CNS during his prostate cancer treatment. He now works as a personal trainer alongside a specialist nurse to support men recovering from prostate cancer.

He is calling for all men with prostate cancer to have access to the same level of support he received.

‘CNSs are so important to support men like me, who’ve been through or are living with prostate cancer,’ he said.

‘Knowing there was a nurse with specialist training who was part of my treatment and care provided me with immense reassurance.

‘I’ve had no issues since my surgery in 2010, but I’m still in contact with my CNS.'

 

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Prostate Cancer UK

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