Majority of cancer patients have access to a clinical nurse specialist, survey shows

A total of 90% of cancer patients were given the name of a clinical nurse specailist according to the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey for England 2016.

The majority of cancer patients have access to a clinical nurse specialist (CNS), according to new survey statistics

The Cancer Information Centre at Bedford Hospital. Picture: Tim George

The National Cancer Patient Experience Survey for England 2016, showed that 90% of respondents were given the name of a CNS.

The survey asked people who have cancer across England for their views on their care, with over 72,000 responding.

Cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support praised the results and said that access to a specialist nurse was ‘invaluable’ for cancer patients.

Macmillan treatment and recovery specialist adviser Dany Bell said: ‘The findings show that the vast majority of people with cancer have access to a CNS as they go through treatment.

‘Going through cancer can be a scary time and we know that having access to a specialist nurse with expertise who can answer questions, provide information, and offer a listening ear is often invaluable for patients.

‘Macmillan believes having a good experience of care is as important as having excellent medical treatment.’


When asked how easy or difficult it had been to contact their CNS, 86% of respondents said that it had been ‘quite easy’ or ‘very easy’.

 A total of 4% said it was quite difficult and 1.3% said it was very difficult, 11% chose not to contact their CNS at all.

67% of respondents said that, in their opinion, there were always or nearly always enough nurses on duty to care for them in hospital.

But just over half said that during their hospital visit, they definitely found someone on the hospital staff to talk to about their worries and fears.

A total of 9% of respondents thought GPs and nurses at their general practice could have done more to support them during cancer treatment.

Room to improve

The survey also showed areas for further improvement including follow-up community and social care after treatment.

Ms Bell added: ‘In primary care, while the majority of people felt their nurse and GP did everything they could to support them, over a third felt more could be done.

‘We know GPs are doing the best they can with the resources they have. We are working closely with our community of over 200 Macmillan GPs, who provide leadership in cancer care in their local communities. This includes providing education on the needs of cancer patients, increasing earlier detection and establishing better communication between healthcare professionals.’

NHS England national clinical director for cancer, Chris Harrison, said the positive feedback was an ‘encouraging testament to the hard work of NHS staff’.

Further information

National Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2016

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