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Forum Focus: an unpalatable read

‘Delayed cancer surgery’ is making headlines yet again – but that's not the whole story

January began well with lots of promises, resolutions and ambitious plans. I was naive to think it would last. The NHS has not been out of the headlines this year, one negative story after another.

In the past, cancer services have been spared the cuts, but this year is different.

Despite being an optimist by nature, the stories of delayed cancer surgery are unpalatable reading. A diagnosis of cancer is so distressing that any delays in treatment are difficult for patients and their families. My understanding, however, is that this situation is not happening everywhere, but in isolated areas.

News fallout

While the headline is scary and forgotten in a day, this type of news lingers in the public mind. Nurses often find themselves dealing with the fallout.

Ensuring nurses have a voice during these challenging times is vitally important. There are numerous ways to do this: directly through the RCN, contributing to the debate by writing for Cancer Nursing Practice, or commenting on National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network and local consultations about future cancer services.

The RCN cancer and breast care forum are on Facebook and, for those who use it, the site can be informative, supportive and an avenue to share what is happening in your own service.  

Fostering enthusiasm

I was speaking to a nursing student last week who had been allocated an oncology placement for eight weeks. She is 19. She was excited as she hoped to work in oncology one day. Fostering and maintaining the enthusiasm of the next generation of nurses is so important. They bring a fresh outlook and a new perspective that should be embraced.

They question what we do and why in an inquisitive way that can be refreshing amid the negative headlines. 

About the author

Susanne Cruickshank @Sue_Cruickshank is chair of the RCN cancer and breast care forum


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