More nurses will have the chance to develop specialist skills in the treatment of brain tumours with the launch of the first dedicated unit in the UK.
The 12-bed inpatient and assessment unit, funded by the National Brain Appeal charity, is based at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN), part of the University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust.
It will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team including four clinical nurse specialists – three surgical and one palliative care, all with a strong neuroscience background. A team of 20 nursing staff has also been recruited to support them, who will have a unique opportunity to develop specialist skills and knowledge.
NHNN brain tumour nurse specialist Orla McKee said: “It is a very diverse group of patients with diverse needs. They may have a range of non-descriptive symptoms that are hard to spot even to a trained medical eye without expertise in this area.
“You need to be very observant of patients – not just physical symptoms but changes in their emotional and cognitive wellbeing.”
The unit, which supports patients, and their families and carers, in hospital and post discharge will treat both malignant and benign tumours.
Ms McKee said nurses would have a chance to follow a patient along the whole care pathway. “They’re not simply working with them for five days on a surgical ward but from pre-oncology to rehabilitation or end of life care.”
She added: “Malignant brain tumours are often very life-limiting and frequently when those diagnoses are given patients will want to explore end of life provision at a very early stage.”