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Nurse shortages harm prostate care

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The NHS must double the number of urological clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) it employs, warn charities.

The NHS must double the number of urological clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) it employs, warn charities.

A chronic shortage of such nurse specialists is a key reason why care of men with prostate cancer is of a lesser standard than other cancer care, according to a report from the Prostate Cancer Charter for Action (PCCA) group.

The group’s report, published this week, also revealed significant variations in the number of urological CNSs across the UK. It said CNSs for men with prostate cancer care for double the number of newly diagnosed patients, compared with breast cancer nurses.

John Neate, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Charity, said recent NHS cutbacks have been extremely damaging to the clinical nurse workforce.

‘This report shows the urgent need for investment in more nurses and for reform of their roles,’ he said.

In an 18-point plan, the PCCA said that the NHS would need to employ an additional 260 urological CNSs, more than double the existing number.

Sarah Henderson, urology clinical nurse specialist at St George’s NHS Trust in London, said: ‘Unless we expand and maximise the effectiveness of the clinical nurse specialist workforce, we will not be able to deliver the improvements we all want to see and give the support that nurses want to give patients.’

Paul Trevatt, Macmillan nurse director at the North East London Cancer Network, added: ‘Commissioners and workforce leads need to understand the added value nurse specialists bring to men with cancer and their carers and plan specialist nursing services accordingly.’

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