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Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist Day at North West Cancer Centre


Cancer Nurse Specialist Team

The Western Trust is celebrating Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) day (26 April 2023).

This in an opportunity to celebrate our cancer CNSs, raise awareness of the role and recognise the contribution that they make to patients and families as well as to the wider multidisciplinary team.

Speaking about the invaluable contribution that the CNS team makes, Interim Lead Nurse, Celia Diver-Hall said:

“Receiving a cancer diagnosis is life changing and devastating for patients and their loved ones. The role of a Cancer CNS makes a huge difference to patient care.

“On National Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist day the North West Cancer Centre (NWCC) at Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry/Londonderry is proud to celebrate our excellent, highly skilled and dedicated team of tumour site specific CNS’s. We recognise the importance of the CNS role and thank them for the positive impact they make on the patient’s cancer pathway.”

It is widely recognised that having access to a CNS improves the quality and experience of care for our patients. The role of the cancer CNS is to provide information and support for patients and families regarding their diagnosis and treatment. The CNS acts as a keyworker, assesses the holistic needs of the patient and makes appropriate referrals to other services to ensure that the care provided is tailored to their specific needs.

In the Western Trust, we have 23 cancer CNSs across lung, breast, colorectal, haematology, gynae, urology, upper gastrointestinal, skin and head and neck tumour sites. Some of our Clinical Nurse Specialists have been kindly funded by Macmillan Cancer Support.

On this day of celebration of the CNS role, we spoke to some of our teams:

Shauna McGroarty our Skin Cancer CNS said:

“I have worked in Cancer Services since 2005. I feel privileged to be able to work in an area that I truly love. I have always aimed to be a Cancer CNS, as I had been inspired by my colleagues in the cancer CNS teams throughout my career in cancer services.

“As a Skin Cancer CNS, I support individuals and their families from diagnosis and throughout their journey. I offer specialist advice, information and emotional support to individuals, and their families. Having a cancer diagnosis can be a very difficult time for individuals, and it’s vital that they have a CNS to support their needs.

“I see the benefits of having a CNS on a daily basis, and the improvement it makes in the patient pathway. Feedback from individuals with skin cancer diagnosis has helped me to see how important my role is and how rewarding it is to ensure individuals are supported.”

Lung Cancer CNSs Karen Harper and Helen McCormick said:

“As lung cancer CNSs, we manage and provide complex personalised care to patients and their loved ones with suspect or confirmed lung cancer. We provide information and support for patients and carers and help them to make informed treatment choices and provide supportive care in the management of symptoms and side effects along their cancer journey. We find that when we are part of the patient’s journey from the beginning we can develop a trusted relationship. In doing so our patients are able to disclose fears and concerns earlier, ensuring we provide a holistic approach to patient care.

“As part of the Multi-Disciplinary Team we are able to contribute on our patients behalf helping to improve patient outcomes. We both have an extensive knowledge caring for patients with respiratory conditions. Having acquired these specific skills has enabled us to support our lung cancer patients, providing personalised care. We are continuing to learn, develop professionally, adapt our practice, and communicate effectively with others – both our patients, their loved ones and our colleagues.”