A census of the advanced and specialist cancer nursing workforce in England, Northern Ireland and Wales

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2010 Feb;14(1):68-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2009.08.005. Epub 2009 Oct 4.


Introduction: At present no detailed data on the specialist cancer nursing workforce across different cancer types and populations is routinely collected in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. This has implications for workforce planning and the future provision of cancer services.

Method: In an attempt to establish a baseline of the workforce a census was taken. Data was collected via an Excel spreadsheet by Cancer Network Nurse Directors and Lead Nurses across England and Northern Ireland and a lead nurse in Wales. Scotland, Palliative Care and Chemotherapy posts were excluded at levels other than Consultant as these are collected via other mechanisms.

Results & conclusions: The census recorded 2309.4 specialist and advanced practice posts in England (89% response rate), 204 posts in Wales (66% response rate) and 43.4 posts in Northern Ireland (100% response rate). There is a variation in terms of distribution of specialist nurses across the Networks both in number and in cancer type. 1800 adult CNS posts were recorded in England and 1 in 5 of these were breast cancer posts. The range of job titles is very wide with 17 different titles being used. In England the extent of support for posts from Macmillan Cancer Support was considerable. Around a third (31%) of all adult cancer specialist posts in England are supported by Macmillan Cancer Support (n=671.2) 607.2 of these are CNS posts equating to 34% of all CNS posts in England. 34% of all NI CNS posts and 32.5% in Wales.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advanced Practice Nursing*
  • Censuses*
  • Clinical Competence
  • England
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Planning
  • Health Workforce*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Northern Ireland
  • Nurse Clinicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Oncology Nursing*
  • Specialties, Nursing
  • Wales