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Major parties line up on need to protect specialist nurses

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All three parties have said they oppose cuts to specialist nurse posts or their reassignment to general ward duties.

However, none of the three parties confirmed they would order trusts not to do so, as they seek ways of making huge savings.

Health secretary Andy Burnham, Conservative health spokesman Mark Simmonds and Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb were questioned on the issue of specialist nurses at a health policy hustings event in London yesterday.

A representative from the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation asked them what they would do to protect specialist nurses, in light of the cuts and reassignment of specialist nurses that occurred in 2006.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “There’s already a risk that the same thing will happen.

“If we are to avoid the loss of these really vital services, which provide incredibly important support – out in the community and well as in hospital – the duty is on us to find ways of making the NHS more efficient.”

Conservative health spokesman Mark Simmonds said it was “absolutely essential” for specialist cancer nurses to be protected.

“We’ve got to make sure that, as happened in the past, these….nurses with specialist expertise are [not] moved onto other duties.”

“I’m very much like to see every cancer patient having a specifically identified cancer nurse specialist or a key worker providing support,” he said.

Similarly Health secretary Andy Burnham said: “We’ve made a funding commitment to one to one specialist nursing for cancer patients.”

He added: “I think it would be one of the wrong steps to take in the period we are entering for people to see specialist nursing as a target. I think a more personal NHS requires an expansion of specialist nursing.

“We’re very clear, going forward that the frontline should be protected and the cost be [taken] from other areas, not staff.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I'm getting to the end of my tether hearing about protecting and supporting specialst nurses and the frontline. It's bollox. I'm a frontline nurse trying to to enhance my skills by training to MSc level and its a bloody nightmare trying to get it funded and mentored properly (and safely) without resorting to completely funding it myself. I'm being moved to a dumbed down version of what my previous duties have been along with all my colleagues, and the service (and ultimately the public) is suffering.

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  • I wish more nurses would 'fund it themselves' - then you wouldn't be beholden to the trust for a lifetime after the course - and rightly tell them to shove it when a promotion elsewhere came along. Our medical colleagues manage it, why not us? Don't whine about not being able to afford it, get a loan.

    What exactly does a one to one specialist nurse for cancer patients mean Andy? Nothing. Or that you won't see a medical consultant, ever?

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