Raising the Profile of the Cancer CNS – National Cancer CNS Day on Tuesday 15 March

28 January 2022

The growth of the cancer workforce is not keeping pace with the increasing demand for cancer services. The National Cancer Workforce Plan (2017) and NHS England’s People Plan (2020) both pledge to increase and transform the cancer workforce to support the delivery of 21st century care. Over the last few years Macmillan Cancer Support have consistently flagged the concern that around 30% of the specialist cancer nursing workforce will retire in the next 10 years whilst also highlighting that CNS numbers will have to double by 2030 in order to meet the needs of an aging population; many of whom will be living with the effects of cancer or cancer treatment. Running alongside this real threat to CNS numbers, is the fact that the CNS workforce delivers real quality to patients. The presence and accessibility of a CNS is consistently flagged as the major factor in improving the experience of patients with a cancer diagnosis.

In order to celebrate, increase awareness of the role, and even promote the importance of the cancer CNS, Greater Manchester Cancer proposed establishing a local ‘Cancer CNS Day’. They believed that the establishment of a day highlighting the Cancer CNS would celebrate the dedication and hard work of CNS teams and make this professional group feel respected and recognised, whilst also creating a sense of belonging that the generalist nursing workforce will aspire to be a part of. The social media campaign will feature videos that aim to showcase the diversity of the role whilst ‘myth-busting’ any preconceptions associated around working within a cancer setting. However, after engaging in discussion with other cancer alliances about the prospect of running a social media campaign to raise the profile of the CNS, it became evident to the team at GMC that other alliances were looking at similar ideas. Given that there are numerous alliances who were aligned with GMC on this campaign area the concept of a national day was highlighted to wider teams and the concept of National Cancer CNS Day now has the support of Health Education England and Macmillan. The day will take place on Tuesday 15 March 2021 and activity on social media channels across all alliances should use the hashtag #NationalCancerCNSDay. The format of pin-pointing a day to run some form of activity allows each alliance (or NHS Trust) to tailor their engagement drive to have a particular focus. Ideas of involvement could be a CNS showcase at a Grand Round, sharing posters CNS teams have submitted to conferences or a piece of research that has been contributed to. The videos produced by GM Cancer Alliance will be in public domain for sharing. At the time of writing there are 15 cancer alliances already keen to support the day.

UKONS supports the concept of a National Cancer CNS Day, would welcome the adoption across the four nations and are keen to help with the promotion of this.

If members wish to support this drive, then they should speak with their local cancer alliance and/or contact Molly Piping at Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance (molly.pipping@nhs.net) to find out more. UKONS will give more information as this becomes available and the event develops further.