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Redeployment of lung cancer nurses during COVID-19 first wave adversely affected care pathway

Report reveals that due to their respiratory ward experience many specialist nurses were redeployed

Report reveals that because of their respiratory ward experience many specialist nurses were redeployed during COVID-19's first wave, which had an impact on the lung cancer care pathway

A new report has underlined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic first wave on lung cancer nurses ability to work, and on patient care.

The report, Covid-19 Matters, published by the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC), highlights information about nurses redeployment and makes recommendations for patient care.

Included in the report is information from an online survey by Lung Cancer Nursing UK (LCNUK) a member of UKLCC conducted between 22 May and 17 July, which asked LCNUK members about service delivery and care.

In that survey, 28

Report reveals that because of their respiratory ward experience many specialist nurses were redeployed during COVID-19's first wave, which had an impact on the lung cancer care pathway

Anatomical illustration of lungs
Picture: iStock

A new report has underlined the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic first wave on lung cancer nurses’ ability to work, and on patient care.

The report, Covid-19 Matters, published by the UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC), highlights information about nurses’ redeployment and makes recommendations for patient care.

Included in the report is information from an online survey by Lung Cancer Nursing UK (LCNUK) – a member of UKLCC – conducted between 22 May and 17 July, which asked LCNUK members about service delivery and care.

In that survey, 28 out of 51 lung cancer nurses said they, or their team members, were redeployed or unable to work due to sickness in the first wave.

Lung Cancer Nursing UK chair and lung cancer nurse clinician Jackie Fenemore
Jackie Fenemore

Specialist nurses have pivotal role in guiding patients through the lung cancer pathway

LCNUK chair and lung cancer nurse clinician Jackie Fenemore said: ‘Lung cancer nurses have been particularly impacted by COVID-19 often because they’ve had previous respiratory ward experience and training.

‘This is particularly worrying given the pivotal role that lung cancer nurse specialists play in guiding patients through the lung cancer pathway, assessing their needs and supporting them and their families.’

Other points from the report (compiled from interviews with 45 of the UK’s lung cancer clinicians, nurse representatives and patient groups) include:

  • The number of people urgently referred to a lung cancer specialist dropped by up to 75% in some areas during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It is estimated that at least one third of lung cancer patients have already died since the beginning of the pandemic.

Campaign could increase awareness of lung cancer symptoms and boost confidence in healthcare services

Recommendations from the report include:

  • The launch of a Be Clear on Lung Cancer and COVID-19 campaign to increase awareness of symptoms and boost public’s confidence in engaging with healthcare services early.
  • Reviewing isolation and visiting restrictions to enable critically ill patients to see their families.
  • Resuming lung cancer screening programmes.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care, said: 'Cancer diagnosis and treatment has remained a priority throughout the pandemic - more than 200,000 people were treated for cancer during the first peak and we urge people to come forward if they have symptoms.'

They noted that the NHS treated two non-COVID patinets for every one COVID patient during the first wave.

'More than 870,000 people were referred for cancer checks between March and August.

'In addition to this, £3 billion has been allocated to the NHS to prepare for winter. This includes funding for Nightingale hospital surge capacity and to upgrade A&E facilities so that the NHS can continue to provide urgent care,' they added.

View our COVID-19 resource centre


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