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Care concerns of prostate cancer specialist nurses ‘being overlooked’

Care concerns raised by prostate cancer specialist nurses are being overlooked by multidisciplinary teams (MDTs), according to a new study.
Care concerns

Care concerns raised by prostate cancer specialist nurses are being overlooked by multidisciplinary teams (MDTs), according to a new study.

The study of around 300 clinical nurse specialists working in prostate cancer revealed that over half (55%) of nurses felt that they did not work in a functional and efficient MDT, with 12% agreeing that their team was dysfunctional and their views were not respected.

Only a third (34%) felt that they could constructively challenge all members of the team in meetings, according to the study by London South Bank University and the University of Plymouth.

Pivotal role

The authors say that specialist nurses play a pivotal role in the effective running of the MDT, managing the complex care of

Care concerns raised by prostate cancer specialist nurses are being overlooked by multidisciplinary teams (MDTs), according to a new study.


More than 55% of clinical cancer nurse specialists felt they did not
work in a functional and efficient multidisciplinary team. Picture: iStock

The study of around 300 clinical nurse specialists working in prostate cancer revealed that over half (55%) of nurses felt that they did not work in a functional and efficient MDT, with 12% agreeing that their team was dysfunctional and their views were not respected.

Only a third (34%) felt that they could constructively challenge all members of the team in meetings, according to the study by London South Bank University and the University of Plymouth.

Pivotal role

The authors say that specialist nurses play a pivotal role in the effective running of the MDT, managing the complex care of men with prostate cancer and are responsible for representing the views and wishes of patients and their families.

Nurses have the most contact with the patient, supporting them from diagnosis, through treatment decisions and beyond.  

They say the results give rise to concern about an apparent lack of cohesion between team members, feelings of disregard, and increasing time pressures -  resulting in patient wishes not being adequately represented within team meetings.

‘Lack of interest’

Other emerging themes from the study highlighted that many nurses working in prostate cancer report a ‘lack of interest in non-medical concerns by other team members’ and an ‘inability to constructively challenge decisions or views within the meetings’. 

Despite having a high level of professional expertise and experience, the specialist cancer nurses expressed a variable, often negative, view of working within a MDT.

Geoffrey Punshon, who led the research at London South Bank University’s School of Health and Social Care said: ‘The MDT is a key component of cancer care delivery, but the results of this study indicate that increasing workloads and challenging culture and working practices appear to be presenting significant barriers to effective working.

‘Heard, discussed, valued’

‘'These findings show how vital it is to ensure that the views of all participants in the MDT are heard, discussed and valued. The findings also demonstrated that more emphasis needs to be given to patients’ non-medical needs.’

The study, published in the Clinical Nurse Specialist journal, was supported by charity Prostate Cancer UK.

Prostate Cancer UK director of support and influencing Heather Blake said: ‘Specialist cancer nurses are integral to MDTs. They are in direct contact with the patients and without them the wishes and wider needs of patients would all too often be overlooked or ignored. It is therefore incredibly concerning that so many nurses working in prostate cancer feel that their views are not valued or respected within the MDT setting.

‘Urgent steps’

‘We know that men with prostate cancer have a much better experience when they are assigned a dedicated specialist nurse. However, the recent National Cancer Patient Experience Survey revealed some stark variations in access across the UK, with only 52% of men gaining access to a nurse in some areas.

‘Prostate cancer is set to become the most common cancer overall by 2030, but as things stand, with an undervalued and diminishing prostate cancer nursing workforce we won’t have the nurses required to support the thousands of men in need.

‘Urgent steps must be taken or we risk losing this vital workforce at a time when we’re going to need them most.'


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