Nurses across the UK could become better equipped to provide complete cancer aftercare after a pilot scheme was launched by Macmillan Cancer Support.
The groundbreaking scheme will see the charity subsidise the training of 10 nurses in south-west England to provide holistic aftercare for cancer patients who have undergone treatment. If the initiative proves to be a success, it could be implemented across the country.
Macmillan will provide GP surgeries with nurses who have enrolled on the course with a £1,000 grant to pay for the training, which can be completed in two full and seven half-day sessions.
The nurses will be trained to assess and co-ordinate self-management care for patients who have completed their cancer treatment. These nurses will also be qualified to provide practical advice and information on the long-term conditions of cancer and ways to cope with living with the disease.
Long-term after-effects of cancer such as fatigue, chronic pain, mobility problems and depression will be discussed with the patients and ways to combat them will be suggested.
Macmillan GP adviser and project lead Charles Campion-Smith said: “Often, patients prefer to speak to their nurses about their problems. However we know that current care for people affected by cancer does not pick up and meet all their needs.
“In a GP practice which serves 6,000 patients, approximately 200 of these will typically be diagnosed with cancer, of which 160 of these people will live for at least another five years. Given the fact that the vast majority of cancer patients are surviving for years after treatment, it goes without saying that improving cancer aftercare is of high importance.”