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Editorial

A plan with something for all

Carole Farrell reviews NHS England’s cancer plan
Carole Farrell

NHS England’s (2016) cancer plan presents a five-year forward view for improving all aspects of care, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, living with and beyond cancer, and end of life.

There is something for everyone – transition from teenager and young adult to adult services, and emphasis on care for older people.

The recommendations are sound and reflect evidence-based practice, including priorities for research to improve patient experience and quality of life as well as clinical management.

Specialist nurses

The plan emphasises the importance of specialist nurses in promoting positive patient experiences, recommending that all patients should have access to a specialist nurse.

This should provide some ammunition to promote the continued employment of specialist nurses, and reinforce the need for new roles in some disease groups.

However, a new cancer plan will not necessarily result in changes to clinical practice.

Barriers

Nurses are generally

NHS England’s (2016) cancer plan presents a five-year forward view for improving all aspects of care, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, living with and beyond cancer, and end of life. 

There is something for everyone – transition from teenager and young adult to adult services, and emphasis on care for older people.

The recommendations are sound and reflect evidence-based practice, including priorities for research to improve patient experience and quality of life as well as clinical management.

Specialist nurses

The plan emphasises the importance of specialist nurses in promoting positive patient experiences, recommending that all patients should have access to a specialist nurse.

This should provide some ammunition to promote the continued employment of specialist nurses, and reinforce the need for new roles in some disease groups.  

However, a new cancer plan will not necessarily result in changes to clinical practice.

Barriers

Nurses are generally keen to embrace changes to improve patient care, however, my previous research has shown that barriers often come from others in organisations, particularly at a managerial level. 

The other main obstacle to change is financial. It is not clear from the plan whether additional money will be provided to fund some of the recommendations, for example more specialist nurse posts to ensure access for all patients, more funding to develop nurse-led services and more funding opportunities to undertake patient-centred research. 

Public expectations

Unless these aspects are addressed, existing services will be squeezed even tighter.

Public expectations of what the NHS can safely deliver for patients with cancer and their families will become unrealistic, which will leave nurses feeling more frustrated and disillusioned. 

About the author

Dr Carole Farrell is nurse and allied health professions research fellow, School of Oncology, Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester.

Reference

NHS England (2016) Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: Taking the Strategy Forward. (Last accessed: May 29 2016.)

 

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