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New specialist nurse outreach service to be launched for young patients in Scotland

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A charity is working with health boards in Scotland to recruit specialist nurses for a new outreach service designed to ensure all teenagers and young adults with cancer get help and support.

Currently only about half of the 200 13- to 24-year-olds diagnosed with cancer in Scotland each year have access to a dedicated young person’s cancer service, according to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

“This new service will see additional teams of nurses taking specialist care beyond the units”

Liz Watt

However, it hopes to change that with the roll-out of its Nursing and Support programme, which will see specialist nurses work with young people and their families in hospitals, at home and other settings.

The charity is working with NHS Grampian, NHS Tayside, NHS Lothian and NHS Highland to develop the service and is looking to recruit to four new band 7 nurse roles – one for each board.

These consist of three whole-time equivalent roles based at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, and the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, with a 0.5 whole-time equivalent post based at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

The charity is also providing funding for improvements to hospital facilities used by young people with cancer.

The new nurses will provide one-to-one support for young people and their families, and work with local clinical teams to ensure their needs are being met in hospital and at home. They will also play a key role in shaping services locally and nationally.

The trust told Nursing Times that it was looking for nurses with relevant experience, such as previous work with teenagers and young adults with cancer, adult oncology or palliative care.

Teenage Cancer Trust

Pioneering new nurse service for young cancer patients

Lymphoma patient Wendy Kay speaking to Liz Watt

Applicants also needed experience of working in a multi-disciplinary environment with a wide range of individuals and should have knowledge of national policy around teenage and young adult cancer, said a charity spokeswoman.

The new posts come on top of dedicated services for young people with cancer already available in the South and West of Scotland, including four specialist units funded by the Teenage Cancer Trust – two in Glasgow and two in Edinburgh.

Liz Watt, the charity’s national lead nurse for teenagers and young people with cancer in Scotland, said the new outreach service would ensure all received “specialist, age-appropriate cancer support”.

“This new service will see additional teams of Teenage Cancer Trust nurses taking specialist care beyond the Teenage Cancer Trust units to wherever young people with cancer are being treated – whether that’s in their local hospitals, at home or elsewhere,” she added.

The expansion of services in Scotland is part of a wider goal to ensure all young people with cancer across the UK have access to specialist nursing support by 2020.

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