Celebrating the important role of cancer nurses

26th Apr 2023

Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust is celebrating National Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) Day highlighting the work they do with some of our most poorly patients.

They show tremendous compassion as they support patients and their families during their cancer journey. 

Now in its second year, the day was founded by Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance with support from Health Education England, Macmillan Cancer Support, the United Kingdom Oncology Nursing Society and the Royal College of Nursing, to raise the profile of cancer clinical nurse specialists at a time when patients and the cancer workforce need them more than ever.

CNSs are highly specialised, experienced nurses, who have undertaken additional study and practical training. Their duties may differ slightly depending on the type of cancer they deal with, but they all have an ability to develop strong relationships and build a sense of trust, honesty and openness with their patients so as to support them in the best possible way.

Clinical nurse specialists use their expertise to assess and treat patients, and their role often extends to other areas such as research.

Jo Harvey, lead cancer nurse and advanced clinical practitioner at the Trust, said: “When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it can be really overwhelming and there’s a lot of information to take in. That’s why it’s important that they have a professional, like a CNS, who can support and guide them and sometimes explain in simple terms what is happening so they can make informed decisions.

“Patients will need many healthcare professionals along the way, but their CNS is their constant and familiar guide throughout. Each patient’s journey is different, but we help them to navigate it with compassion, knowledge and support.

“As a CNS, I’m there to support the patient and their families both physically and emotionally, from the initial diagnosis right through to their treatment and after care. Because of this, I often get to know my patients and their loved ones on a much deeper level and can make a meaningful difference, which is what I love about my job.”

We spoke to some of our CNSs to find out what their role means to them. Watch the video here:


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