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This December, we are spreading a little Christmas thanks for the invaluable role that Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) have in a leukaemia patient's journey. We want CNSs to know that they matter to patients, to charities and to other healthcare professionals.
A CNS is a nurse either educated to a postgraduate degree level and/or has significant experience in managing and caring for a particular disease type or patient group.
The general responsibilities of a CNS are: providing emotional and physical support for patients, co-ordinating patient care, delivering patient care, educating other staff members, and acting as a patient advocate.
From our 2016 patient experience survey, we identified that out of 2,019 leukaemia patients only 38% said they had access to a CNS. Additionally, we found that there are huge variations across the UK ranging from 30% access to 50% access.
At Leukaemia Care we want to see CNS access reaching the targets of 100% and have made three recommendations for achieving this:
Because of this, this December we are:
1. Ensuring that CNSs know they matter
We have sent #myCNSmatters advent calendars and Christmas cards to every haematology ward in the UK as a token of our appreciation and a way of us saying thank you for all the hard work that they do.
2. Demonstrating that #myCNSmatters
Using our ‘My CNS Matters’ report, the experience of patients and those of Clinical Nurse Specialists we will be making sure that the right people hear that access to a CNS for leukaemia patients requires improvement.
3. Thirdly and most importantly, we need you to join in and share your story about why #myCNSmatters.
Have you had access to a CNS or not? How has this impacted your blood cancer journey? Join us in saying ‘thank you, my CNS matters' by sending us a photo of yourself on social media explaining why your CNS matters to you. Don't forget to use the hashtag #myCNSmatters
Michael was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and from the point of diagnosis was given a CNS, who he couldn't thank enough.
Read his story here.
10 years ago, Sandra was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and spent a lot of time in hospital. She couldn't thank the nurses enough as they made her time more bearable.
Read her story here.
In 2010, Frank was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). At the point of diagnosis, Frank was only given the information he needed when he was given a CNS.
Read his story here.
Our latest report, ‘My CNS Matters: The invaluable role of a Clinical Nurse Specialist’, highlights findings from our 2016 patient experience survey that demonstrate the improvements that a CNS add to patient experience.
Some of the key findings are:
Clinical Nurse Specialists can help leukaemia patients to feel more positive, improve understanding at each stage of the cancer journey and ensure that patients are supported.
The value that a CNS adds to leukaemia patient care echoes that across all cancers. This is why in 2015 NHS England made the target of ensuring all cancer patients have access to a named key-worker – usually a CNS.