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Oncology nurses warn of capacity issues in chemo units

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Patient care is suffering as a result of cancer capacity challenges in the NHS, according to a small survey of nurses sponsored by a pharma company.

Over-stretched chemotherapy services are restricting the standard of care that oncology nurses and pharmacists are able to provide their patients, suggest the results.

“All staff working to support oncology services need to look for solutions to increase capacity within the system”

Elaine Lennan

Almost 85% of oncology pharmacists and 75% of oncology nurses felt that low capacity in cancer services was having either some or a significant negative impact on patient care.

In addition, 90% of nurses and 78% of pharmacists surveyed expected their chemotherapy units to experience capacity issues in the future.

Around half of survey respondents believed that capacity issues will result in longer waiting lists for cancer treatment in the NHS.

The survey of 50 nurses and 50 pharmacists was funded by Roche Products.

Elaine Lennan, consultant chemotherapy nurse at University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “More patients than ever are living longer with cancer.

“While this progress is fantastic, it is putting ever growing pressures on our chemotherapy units and the quality of care that nurses can deliver is suffering as a result,” she said.

“With the political agenda keeping the spotlight on efficiency within the NHS, all staff working to support oncology services need to look for solutions to increase capacity within the system to the benefit of the individuals we are caring for,” she added.

Recent advances include the replacement of intravenous infusions with oral administration or administration by subcutaneous injection.

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