A “cancer care passport” has been launched for the capital’s oncology specialist nurses, so they can demonstrate they are qualified and competent to deliver systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT).
Once nurses have trained in SACT, the new passport will mean they can work in the therapy area at any NHS organisation across greater London.
“This is an exciting development for nurses and nursing in London”
The new training and competency framework – titled the Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy Competency Passport (see attached PDF below) – encompasses the delivery of both biological therapy and cytotoxic chemotherapy.
It covers oral, intravenous, subcutaneous and intramuscular handling and administration of SACT for adult patients.
Those behind the initiative said it was a “first for a nursing specialism in London” and that its potential benefits were “substantial”.
The passport would ensure SACT training was “consistent, up-to-date and standardise best practice across London”, they said.
As well as strengthening the care and consistency of support for patients, they hoped it would also support career development, offer nurses a greater choice of workplace and save money.
The passport was jointly developed by the United Kingdom Oncology Nursing Society and the Capital Nurse programme – set up in 2015 to boost the training and recruitment and retention of nurses in London, and funded by Health Education England, NHS Improvement and NHS England.
They noted that until now different training for roles in the same field had meant assessment and training could be “inconsistent and valuable time and money was often spent on retraining nurses”.
“Despite the best intentions, I have been struck by the variations in training staff report they receive”
They warned this could delay nurses from starting in SACT roles, deter nurses from moving trust and increase dependency on temporary staff to fill such roles – a major concern for directors of nursing.
As part of the initiative, they said data from the first 100 SACT passport trained nurses would be gathered over the next few months and used to examine the scheme’s economic and social impacts.
The two organisations added that the passport was patient focused, having been developed by talking to patients with cancer and their families.
The passport was launched at event on Wednesday at Guy’s Hospital in London, which was attended by 80 current and former nurses, including oncology nursing experts, academics and nurse leaders.
Oliver Shanley, regional chief nurse for London, said: “This is an exciting development for nurses and nursing in London.
“Traditionally nurses who administer SACT have been required to undertake re-training to deliver the therapy in any new place of work,” noted Mr Shanley.
“The passport will show that they are up-to-date on the latest medical and care techniques to best support patients,” he said.
Cancer care passport for London’s oncology nurses launched
Flo Panel-Coates, chief nurse at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said that she had been “struck by the variations” in training that nursing staff reported they received on SACT.
“The reduction of unnecessary training time will not only release time to care, it saves the NHS money – not only in training costs but also in the current reliance on temporary agency nursing staff who often fill these critical SACT roles,” she said.
She added: “The passport will also support nurses to move across organisations to advance in their careers, as well as using their expertise to provide patients with the treatment they need in a timely way.”
Dr Catherine Oakley, a chemotherapy nurse consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and former president of the UKONS, highlighted that cancer treatment was “not easy for patients, their carers and their families”.
“With the new SACT passport, patients will benefit from high quality nursing that is equally focused on safe drug delivery and supportive care – supporting and enabling patients and their families to manage both the psychological and the debilitating physical effects of SACT,” she said.
What is the SACT passport?
The systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT) competency passport is a training/competency framework for nurses/clinicians in the oral, intravenous, subcutaneous and intramuscular handling and administration of systemic anti-cancer therapy for adult patients. It is patient and quality of care focused.
It will standardise theoretical knowledge and competency of SACT nurses. The purpose is to provide a high quality tool that is recognised as a passport between organisations.
It has been developed by expert practitioners, employed by the NHS, as a high quality patient focused competency tool. It has been designed to enable clinicians administering SACT tool to provide as evidence of their competence.
There are three steps to competency attainment:
- Step 1 involves completion of the theoretical section, which serves as a “the passport”. It is the theory that is recognised and is not required to be repeated. The workbook is designed to be marked either by a clinician in practice e.g. practice educator or a course module leader
- Step 2 requires completion of the relevant clinical practice competency sections
- Step 3 involves completion of the annual reaccreditation certificate