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Minister praises cancer support nurses

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Junior health minister Ann Keen has praised the work of specialist nurses in treating cancer in the community, saying they are a vital source of support to patients and their families.

Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference yesterday, Ms Keen said nursing skills were even more important now because cancer and other previously lethal diseases were being increasingly considered long-term conditions.

She told delegates: ‘Cancer has in the past been regarded as an acute lethal condition, we did not refer to cancer as a long-term condition.’

But there are now more than two million cancer survivors in Britain, who require help and support from the health service, she said. ‘Specialist nurses are the group of health professionals that are most involved with caring for patients and families,’ she said.

However Ms Keen added that nurses and other NHS staff would need more training if they are to achieve the government’s goals of treating more patients at home. ‘We need to add to the expert health professionals, we need to be integrating professional training,’ she said.

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