Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, has announced an £11.5million expansion to the specialist cancer nursing workforce, creating around 60 new specialist cancer nursing and support worker posts over the next five years.
Minister Hamilton revealed that the additional posts would be funded by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), in partnership with two charities. The HSCB will invest £2.4million, Macmillan Cancer Support will provide a £7million investment and Friends of the Cancer Centre have pledged a further £2.1million.
Minister Hamilton said: “More cancer specialist nurses are needed in Northern Ireland, and this significant investment will create around 60 new posts which is excellent news for local patients. The new clinical nurse specialists and support workers will be spread across all five health trusts and will focus on different cancer types, according to current patient need.
“Clinical nurse specialists work at the front line of cancer care, providing patient with support during and after treatment. They are the main point of contact for patients and their families, play a vital role in the coordination of care, and ensure that patients receive the holistic support they need to meet their clinical and emotional needs. They are greatly valued by patients and this investment will benefit patients directly with more nurses on the ground.”
In 2014, Macmillan Cancer Support commissioned a census of clinical nurse specialist provision across the UK. Heather Monteverde, Head of Macmillan Cancer Support NI, said: “Macmillan first established clinical nurse specialists in the 1970s and we have been campaigning for the last 10 years to increase clinical nurse specialist numbers here in Northern Ireland.
“We have been working closely with the Health and Social Care Board and are delighted to be able to invest £7million pounds over the next five years to ensure that newly diagnosed patients are supported by a clinical nurse specialists – wherever they live, whatever type of cancer they have, and whichever hospital they attend for treatment.”
Colleen Shaw, Chief Executive of Friends of the Cancer Centre, said: “Friends of the Cancer Centre is committed to ensuring that cancer patients in Northern Ireland have access to the best possible care and we see clinical nurse specialists as a vital part in this. As a local charity we are delighted to invest £2.1million into the future of specialist nursing which will benefit patients across Northern Ireland.”