Experts claim cutting specialist nursing posts could lead to more deaths from lung cancer.
A report by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and the National Lung Cancer Forum has urged the NHS to protect the jobs of nurses who specialise in lung cancer, saying more are needed to increase the life expectancy of people with the disease.
Less than 10% of the 40,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer each year will live longer than five years. But the report believes lung cancer nurse specialists are vulnerable in the face of NHS budget cuts, which could make the survival rates even lower.
Dr Jesme Fox, medical director of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, said specialist nurses were vital in the fight against lung cancer.
John White, chairman of the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses, said specialist nurses played an important role in providing the best care possible for patients and maximising their chances of survival. He said he wanted to see a situation where all patients with lung cancer could be cared for by a specialist nurse.
But the research found the quality of care provided by the nurses was being hampered by demanding workloads and large amounts of red tape.
The report called for everyone to be able to see a specialist nurse at all stages of their illness. And it recommended that they were given more recognition in national clinical guidelines and at multi-disciplinary team meetings as the patient’s advocate.
Other recommendations included supplying more resources for nurse-led clinics to help people stop smoking and offering sessions with specialist nurses to patients after their treatment had finished.