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Cancer nurse specialists are topping up training in their own time, charity says

Macmillan survey finds heavy workloads prevent many from taking time off for CPD training

Macmillan survey finds heavy workloads prevent many from taking time off for CPD training

Cancer nurse specialist told the Macmillan survey that care for people living with cancer would improve if CNSs were given time off for training
Picture: John Houlihan

Specialist nurses are being denied the time they need for training to improve care for people living with cancer, according to a new report.

The findings, from a survey by charity Macmillan Cancer Support in England, found more than one in five cancer nurse specialists (CNS) (22%) had used their annual leave to undertake training.

Of the 268 CNSs who responded, 56% said a heavy workload had prevented them taking time off for training in the past 12 months.

Three quarters (76%) said care for people living with cancer would improve if CNSs were given time off for training.

Ring-fenced funding and time off for CPD

Macmillan called on the government, NHS England, Health Education England (HEE) and all trusts to commit to all CNSs having time off for continuing professional development (CPD), with ring-fenced funding.

The charity’s executive director of policy and impact, Fran Woodard, said the organisation will do all it can to build and sustain the CNSs workforce, ‘but we can’t do it alone’.

‘We stand ready to work with colleagues across the NHS to ensure that our hard-working cancer workforce gets the support it deserves,’ Dr Woodward said.

Responding to Macmillan, a Department of Health and Social Care (DH) spokesperson said it expected organisations to ensure funding and time is allocated to CNSs for their training.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, which represents employers in the NHS in England, said CPD funding cuts had prevented organisations from offering development opportunities to staff. ‘We welcome assurances from national bodies on the reinstatement of CPD,’ he said.

Budget is ‘meaningless’ without time off for training

The DH spokesperson also pointed to the government’s recent announcement that nurses will get a £1,000 personal development fund as evidence of its support for nurses training.

But RCN head of professional learning and development Nichola Ashby said a training budget for nurses is ‘meaningless’ unless they are given time to attend training.

‘This shocking report sadly backs up what our members repeatedly tell us about the difficulties of having time for vital training and development work,’ she said.

‘Nurses are already stretched to breaking point – no nurse should be having to use their annual leave for training courses.’ 

HEE was also contacted for comment. 


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