News

'Cancer nurses deserve to be treated like rock stars'

Specialty needs investment and clear career pathways as it struggles to recover from redeployment in the pandemic amid high vacancy levels, RCNi webinar hears
Cancer nurse with patient – as leaders says cancer nurse specialists need to be better valued

Specialty needs investment and clear career pathways as it struggles to recover from redeployment in the pandemic amid high vacancy levels, RCNi webinar hears

Cancer nurses were told they should be treated like rockstars as they weather a perfect storm of challenges and struggle to recover from the pandemic.

Nurse leaders at the RCNi Cancer Nursing Practice webinar on 30 November also warned that innovations such as immunotherapy are accelerating the need for more nurse specialists.

Staffing pressures and lingering resentment over redeployment

But an ageing workforce and lack of routes into cancer nursing mean vacancies are compounding pressures on those who choose to stay in the speciality.

‘We need to repair the moral injury

Specialty needs investment and clear career pathways as it struggles to recover from redeployment in the pandemic amid high vacancy levels, RCNi webinar hears

Cancer nurse with patient – as leaders says cancer nurse specialists need to be better valued
Picture: iStock

Cancer nurses were told they should be treated like rockstars as they weather a perfect storm of challenges and struggle to recover from the pandemic.

Nurse leaders at the RCNi Cancer Nursing Practice webinar on 30 November also warned that innovations such as immunotherapy are accelerating the need for more nurse specialists.

Staffing pressures and lingering resentment over redeployment

But an ageing workforce and lack of routes into cancer nursing mean vacancies are compounding pressures on those who choose to stay in the speciality.

‘We need to repair the moral injury felt by the pandemic,’ nurse consultant and president of UK Oncology Care, Mark Foulkes told the group.

‘Many nurses were moved out of their jobs, felt like they weren’t valued, were moved to more acute areas where they had very little experience. There was a real sense of injustice.’

He recalled speaking to a colleague involved in the Nightingale hospitals who told him their main objective was to ‘treat the nurses like rock stars’.

‘I think people need to feel that, they need to feel like they are special and valued,’ he added.

Investment in innovation is futile without highly skilled staff

Mr Foulkes called for greater government investment in cancer services, including better pay for the ‘highly skilled job’ cancer nurses do.

He added: ‘There is an increasing emphasis on a new hospital programme, new drugs, new technology – and there is nothing wrong with that. But unless you have people to give the drugs, to drive kit and work in these new hospitals there is very little point in making these investments.’

Sheffield Teaching Hospital’s consultant nurse Diana Greenfield agreed that high nurse vacancy levels, treatment backlogs and ‘a crippling shortage of oncologists’ are affecting staff.

Picture: iStock

‘We need routes into this career, as well as routes out’

‘Morale is low and people are tired,’ Professor Greenfield told the webinar.

‘We have to get through the winter. But if we are going to do anything about people leaving, we have to be quick. It’s crucial that there are routes in, as well as routes out.’

Mr Foulkes suggested that increasing cancer education on university curricula might encourage more nurses into the field. He also urged nurses to find their political voice to fight for change and investment.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Standard
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs