Leading cancer nurse appointed to NHS task force

Cancer group set up to improve diagnosis, treatment and survival rates to benefit from nursing expertise after outcry at profession being overlooked

A leading nurse has been appointed to the cancer task force set up by NHS England to improve care over the next five years, following pressure from senior nurses.

Catherine Oakley, president of the UK Oncology Nursing Society has been selected to join the 17-strong group after nurses complained that initial failure to include a nurse was a glaring omission. The appointment was made by task force chair and Cancer Research UK chief executive, Harpal Kumar.

England's chief nursing officer Jane Cummings intervened after hearing from nurses they were worried the task force's work would be critically undermined without nursing expertise.

Diana Greenfield, a nurse consultant at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was among those who voiced concern and contacted Dr Kumar.

He had originally said no more members would be added to the group because it was 'already quite a big team'. However, in an email to Dr Greenfield announcing the appointment of Catherine Oakley he wrote: 'She has come highly recommended to me due to her extensive experience in cancer care, and I think she will bring additional insight to the existing engagement we are planning with the wider nursing community.'

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