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Vital lung cancer nurses overworked, warns report

Lung cancer nurses are “desperately overstretched” and their specialist role must be protected, according to a report published last week by a group of clinical experts.

The report from the UK Lung Cancer Coalition highlighted that where patients were seen by a lung cancer nurse specialist within a multidisciplinary team (MDT), they were more likely to have a good experience of care.

But it warned there was only one lung cancer nurse in England for every 122 patients diagnosed with the disease.  This compares with 79 for breast cancer patients.

The report – titled The Dream MDT for Lung Cancer – sets out 20 recommendations to improve the care received by lung cancer patients.

It called for all patients to have access to a lung cancer specialist nurse throughout the care pathway and said the role must be expanded and protected, despite NHS financial cutbacks.

Specialist nurses needed to work closely with MDT co-ordinators and audit staff to ensure they were not taking on unnecessary administrative roles, it said.

In addition, the report recommended that lung cancer specialist nurses be involved with pre-diagnosis care of suspected lung cancer patients, from the point of detailed investigations in secondary care.

UKLCC nurse spokeswoman Alison Bennett, a Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialist at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The lung cancer nurse is essential for ensuring continuity of patient care – and is the link person between the clinical specialties. 

“Yet many are being diverted into other more general ward tasks or administrative duties – and some smaller lung cancer MDTs teams may have insufficient lung cancer nurse specialist cover.”

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