More than 40 new specialist cancer nurse jobs will be created in Northern Ireland over the next five year thanks to a multi-million pound investment.
New specialist support workers will also be employed with £11.5m funding from the region’s Health and Social Care Board and two charities.
“More cancer specialist nurses are needed in Northern Ireland”
The new roles will be spread across all five health trusts in Northern Ireland and focus on different cancer types, according to patient’s needs, said ministers.
The move follows research identifying gaps in specialist nursing provision. Currently all women in Northern Ireland who are diagnosed with breast cancer get the support of a clinical nurse specialist.
However, that is not the case for people with other types of cancer and the new posts are designed to fill those gaps.
The HSCB will invest £2.4m, while Macmillan Cancer Support will provide £7m and local charity the Friends of the Cancer Centre £2.1m.
The money will go towards creating 42.8 whole-time equivalent clinical nurse specialist posts and 19.6 whole-time equivalent support worker roles.
The investment was announced today by Northern Ireland health minister Simon Hamilton.
“More cancer specialist nurses are needed in Northern Ireland, and this significant investment will create around 60 new posts, which is excellent news,” he said.
“They are greatly valued by patients and this investment will benefit patients directly with more nurses on the ground,” he added.
Heather Monteverde, head of Macmillan Cancer Support in Northern Ireland, noted that the charity had been pushing for 10 years to increase specialist nurse numbers in the region.
Number of Northern Ireland cancer nurses to rise
She said: “We have been working closely with the HSCB and are delighted to be able to invest £7m over the next five years to ensure that newly diagnosed patients are supported by a clinical nurse specialist – wherever they live, whatever type of cancer they have, and whichever hospital they attend for treatment.”
Friends of the Cancer Centre chief executive Colleen Shaw said she wanted all cancer patients to have access to the best possible care and that clinical nurse specialists were a “vital part in this”.
“As a local charity we are delighted to invest £2.1m into the future of specialist nursing which will benefit patients across Northern Ireland,” she added.