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Charity: All leukaemia patients should have a clinical nurse specialist

Monday 10th April 2017
A clinical nurse specialist should be assigned to every leukaemia patient in the UK, according to a cancer charity. Image: Lighthaunter via iStock
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    Leukaemia patients in the UK should be assigned a nurse who specialises in caring for people with this form of cancer as soon as they are diagnosed.

    This is the opinion of the charity Leukaemia Care, which recently carried out a survey to find out how many leukaemia patients have access to a clinical nurse specialist throughout the course of their treatment. The findings of the research have been published in the Royal College of Nursing's Community Health Nursing Journal.

    It was found that under half (49 per cent) of people diagnosed with leukaemia are assigned a clinical nurse specialist to support them through treatment, with this figure falling to 37 per cent for patients aged 65 and above.

    Shirley Aston, nurse adviser at Leukaemia Care, explained: "The government recommends that when cancer patients are diagnosed they are linked with a nurse.

    "We build up a relationship with the patient and the family as their first port of call and we can give advice on treating side effects. We can also get them attention early on if we think their symptoms are urgent."

    It was also found that patients aged 65 and over are twice as likely to be treated as non-urgent cases and were less likely to be given the option of enrolling in a clinical trial to test out potential new treatment options for the disease. Just 46 per cent of over-65s were given this option in comparison to 60 per cent of younger patients.

    What's more, none of the survey respondents who were aged 85 and above were given advice on finding out more about their condition via the internet, despite many members of this age category regularly using the web.

    As a result, these findings indicate that more leukaemia patients could benefit from contact with a clinical nurse specialist, who would be able to provide a high level of support to them throughout their treatment, alongside advising them on where to find out extra information where necessary.

    Written by James Puckle

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