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Cancer nurses’ high workload ‘harming patient care’

Charity says patients are being left in the dark over results

High workloads among specialist cancer nurses are harming patient care, a survey suggests.

A poll by Macmillan Cancer Support found 44% of specialist nurses said their workload was having a negative impact on patient care, while 39% said it was “unmanageable”.

The charity warned that patients are being left in the dark over results.

Around one in 10 specialist nurse posts are vacant in some regions, and more than three quarters of nurses said having more time for training would help them improve care for people living with cancer.

Nikki Cannon, Macmillan Cancer Support’s specialist adviser for workforce, said while much more needs to be done to grow the workforce, the report shows how urgently existing nursing staff also need to be supported and retained.

One patient, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year, said: “I’ve just had my routine scans to monitor for a cancer relapse and I have no idea when I’ll get results. My cancer nurse specialist is always insanely overloaded so it’s not her fault, but also there is no one else who can answer my questions.” 

Other patients said nurses caring for them had been “rushed off their feet” and had stayed behind their shifts to attend to them, the Telegraph reports.