Study is First to Prove Benefits of Specialist Cancer Nurses
When it comes to cancer wellness, does having a specialist nurse make a difference? According to a new study from researchers at the University of Southampton, it does, with cancer patients reporting a better experience of care at hospitals where there are more specialist nurses.
The new study, which was published in the Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, found that the emotional wellbeing of patients at such hospitals was better off, as these patients were more likely to say they received sufficient emotional support during treatment. However, it wasn’t just the patients who benefited from these nurses, but the hospital staff did too. The study found that hospitals with more specialist nurses were more likely to report that the people treating and caring for them worked well together.
As it stands, the number of specialist nurses has increased across the NHS in recent decades, as these health professionals play a vital role in providing support to cancer patients, said study author Peter Griffiths, professor of health services research at the University of Southampton. However, he warned that there is no guarantee such posts will continue to exist in the future, due to the current strain on NHS funding. He noted that this study is the first to prove that employing more specialist nurses measurably benefits patients’ quality of life.
According to Professor Griffiths, ‘Cancer and its treatment can place a huge burden, both physical and psychological, on patients. Supporting people with cancer on the journey from diagnosis to treatment and beyond, which for increasing numbers includes long-term survival, is a key challenge for health services.’ He added, ‘he absolute differences we see are small but if your odds of receiving good emotional support are increased by 15% I suspect most of us would take it if we were being treated for cancer.’
Martin Ledwick, head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, commented, ‘Studies like this which demonstrate the value of patients having access to specialist nurses and well-staffed hospitals are extremely important. Although it would seem like a truism that having access to these resources would give patients an improved experience of care, specialist nurse posts are an easy target for trusts when they are asked to save money.’
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