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Celebrating National Cancer CNS Day

Today marks National Cancer Nurse Specialist (CNS) Day and we want to celebrate our highly-skilled nurses who deliver cancer care, and to also ask the question, “Could YOU be a Cancer CNS?”

Cancer CNSs have a major impact on any patient’s cancer journey – whatever the outcome may be. They are there to support patients and their families from the point of a cancer diagnosis or at times, as soon as the patient has suspected cancer.

Here at the Trust, we have around 34 Cancer CNSs working across 14 different services. Their roles and expertise are all varied but everyone works towards the same goal; to improve the quality and experience of care for patients.

“It’s an absolute privilege to support cancer patients at their most vulnerable.”

Jo Richardson is a Urology Cancer CNS and Team Lead at the Great Western Hospital. A large part of her role involves educating patients and their families and even staff on new and existing treatments for Urology Cancers.

Jo said: “We are often the ones to reveal a cancer diagnosis to patients. These are really difficult conversations to have but it’s so important to get it right. Patients are often overwhelmed when they are first told they have cancer but what they do remember most is how they were told and it can really make or break their trust in us as healthcare professionals.

“Whilst it is a challenging role, it is an absolute privilege to support cancer patients at their most vulnerable. It’s all about educating the patient and empowering them to make informed choices about their care – we want them to have a sense of control in what feels like a helpless situation.”

“Receiving care that is tailored to a person’s needs can have a really huge impact on their experience and quality of life.”

Just six months ago, the Trust introduced a new Personalised Care Team within Cancer Services. Lauren McClelland and Michelle Taylor are both Cancer CNSs working in the team to ensure that every patient receives personalised care and support from their cancer diagnosis onwards.

Michelle said: “A lot of what we do is centred around the patients’ holistic needs assessment – This allows us to understand what’s truly important to the patient, what their anxieties are and how we can support them.

“This can include a wide range of concerns, such as people’s emotional or social wellbeing, finances, and ongoing physical problems, such as fatigue and pain but we want to reassure people that we have an incredible network of CNSs across different specialities and other health professionals both within and outside the Trust who can support them through their treatment and beyond.

Lauren said: “Receiving care that is tailored to a person’s needs can have a really huge impact on their experience and quality of life and that’s why our role is ever more important. We are a growing team and we will be looking for a new Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist to join us in the coming months so we want to encourage colleagues to get in touch if they are interested.”

Consider a career as a Cancer CNS  

Karen Brown, Lead Cancer Nurse said: “The expertise of the Cancer CNS is developed over time and we have some of the best. The team have a strong ethos of nurturing and supporting colleagues. We focus on creating opportunities for professional growth.

“Each team is instrumental in advocating for patient care and evolving the service to meet those needs in the best way we can. With the increases in cancer diagnosis, treatment and living with the diagnosis, we know we need to expand our CNS workforce. If you are interested in joining this compassionate and ambitious team, do get in touch with me at”

Nicky Knightly, Stem Cell Transplant Specialist Nurse said: “The role of as Cancer CNS varies day-to-day, with no two days ever being the same. We are committed to improving our patient’s experience, being a listening ear and a key point of contact for patients and their relatives, helping them to navigate through what is the most challenging time of their lives. I’m sure I speak on behalf of all the Cancer CNSs that what we do really does make a difference in patients’ lives and it’s such a rewarding role.”

There are currently a number of vacancies within the Cancer CNS Team listed below:

  1. NHS Jobs - Application
  2. NHS Jobs - Application

We would highly encourage nurses who are looking for their next professional challenge to consider applying.

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