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Cancer teams lacking specialist nurses

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Nearly a quarter of multi-disciplinary cancer teams in some specialities may not have a clinical nurse specialist, ministers have conceded.

The government’s Cancer Reform Strategy, published in December, called on commissioners to pay ‘particular attention’ to ensuring adequate CNS provision.

But around 20% of local MDTs in gynaecology, lung and urology cancers are without CNS cover, according to data gathered as part of the national cancer peer review programme. The worst cover, however, was in upper gastrointestinal cancer, where 31% of MDTs had no CNS.

The information was provided by junior health minister Ann Keen in reply to a parliamentary question from the Conservatives. Ms Keen claimed that, because the data was gathered between November 2004 and March 2007, it did not ‘necessary reflect the current position’.

Prostate cancer charities have said the NHS needs to employ an extra 260 urological CNSs, more than double the present number.

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