Publication – The work left undone. Understanding the challenge of providing holistic lung cancer nursing care in the UK

In England best practice guidance in cancer recommends that all patients have access to a specialist nurse such as the tumour specific clinical nurse specialist. The role has become pivotal providing aspects of care e.g. meeting information needs, holistic nurse led follow up including symptom control, managing care and providing psychological and social interventions including referral to others in the role of keyworker. There are approximately 295 lung cancer nurse specialists in England and recent study to model optimum caseload used an on line survey to look at workload of lung cancer specialist nurses. A survey of 100 lung cancer nurses from across the UK (RR78%) examined the perception of the work left undone against best practice guidance, caseload size, workload and other factors. 67 of 78 respondents perceived they left work such as proactive management (52) undertaking holistic needs assessments (46) providing appropriate psychological care (26) and meeting information needs (16). The majority (70) worked unpaid overtime (mean 3.8 h range 1e10 h) per week. Although proactive management is thought to result in better outcomes for lung cancer patients in terms of survival, quality of life and decisions of end of life a substantial number of the specialist nurses felt that factors such as caseload and organisational factors inhibited this.

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