On 15 March we will see the second National Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) awareness day. Created by the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance, this day is now embedded into our working year. It is an opportunity to showcase the specialist cancer nursing workforce and the services they deliver. With 30% of our specialist cancer nursing workforce due to retire in the next 10 years, the CNS workforce needs to increase by 100% in the next 7 years, to meet patient demand (Macmillan Cancer Support, 2021). Last year's event managed to engage with 12 million people across social media platforms, with all 21 cancer alliances involved in publicising the day. It was hugely successful and highlighted the valuable role of the cancer CNS.
Ford (2022) discussed the role of the CNS and how vital it is to improving services, treatment and care. The CNS role in the UK has largely evolved into an advanced practice role in order to meet the needs of patients and their families (Leary, 2021). However, the CNS role is often misunderstood and undervalued in many healthcare services, possibly because the overall effect of the role cannot be defined by single tasks, but rather represents a number of complex interactions. This ambiguity in role definition has led to CNSs being regularly reviewed within their organisations and being asked to ‘prove their worth’ is not an uncommon phrase heard by colleagues across the UK. Given growing evidence that nurse specialist roles and having a named CNS are associated with better outcomes for cancer patients (Stewart et al, 2021; Alessy et al, 2022), it seems unnecessary to have to continually prove this contribution.
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