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Cancer nurse levels 'at all-time high'

23 October 2014 09:49

The number of specialist cancer nurses has reached an all-time high in England

The number of specialist cancer nurses has reached an all-time high in England

England has seen an all-time high in the number of specialist adult cancer nurses, according to latest figures.

Macmillan Cancer Support found there are more than 3,000 such nurses in the NHS, with the number increasing by 283 compared to three years previously.

However, other research released recently has shown that one in 10 people suffering from the disease in England still do not have a dedicated cancer nurse. And one in three of these nurses are aged 50 and over, meaning many will be approaching retirement in the next few years.

Macmillan hailed the figures, but warned against complacency.

It said the census, which collected data from 97% of England's hospitals, underlines the role it plays in supporting cancer nurses, with 79% of new nursing posts since 2011 being Macmillan nurses.

Bowel cancer patient Luke Bennett, 32, who was diagnosed in 2007, said he does not believe he would still be alive without the assistance of Macmillan nurses.

Such care levels can help cancer patients to make a recovery, or become well enough to eventually enjoy a holiday - whether to see new places or visit friends and family living overseas. Specialist travel insurance for cancer patients can be arranged.

Luke paid tribute to the nurses' level of expertise, saying his nurse, Theresa, had been instrumental in helping him decide to take earlier treatment. He said she had shown honesty when he needed it, and he is "massively grateful" for that.

Chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, Ciaran Devane, said the findings were "encouraging".