Editorial

Conference call

I’m delighted to invite you all to attend the inaugural Cancer Nursing Practice conference on 27 April at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester.

The programme has been designed with specialist nurses in mind, including two keynote presentations and three workshops, and with a focus on nurse-led innovations in cancer practice, education and research. Full details are at regonline.com/cnpconference and the early bird rate of £100 plus VAT is available until 28 February.

The conference will explore how to provide high-quality care for patients with cancer in challenging times for the health service, and how nurses can be supported to cope with the resulting physical and emotional demands. As our analysis shows, the need for support is more important than ever. It paints a shocking picture of delays in diagnosis and treatment, including cancelled operations, bed shortages and a lack of intensive care facilities.

Emotional fallout

Front line staff will not be surprised by this news since they have to deal with the emotional fallout from patients caught up in systems that are overstretched and, in some cases, at breaking point.

Any delays in cancer treatment exacerbate an already difficult situation for patients and nurses. Delays mean nurses will face additional questions from patients about potential implications for prognosis and how they cope with uncertainty.

On top of this comes news of nursing shortages in almost every hospital in England, which places increased pressure on front line staff in all areas. Oncology is no exception.

Demand for clinical services outstrips capacity, a situation seen daily in most chemotherapy units. It means nurses and managers must consider alternative strategies to cope with increasing patient numbers. One solution is to treat patients in their own homes, or provide systemic anti-cancer treatments closer to home.

This is no quick fix, however, and requires careful planning to ensure quality, safety and patient confidence are maintained. 

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