Helen's story

About Helen

Helen is a CNS at The Christie Foundation in Greater Manchester. Like many trusts across the UK, the CNS workforce at The Christie is under pressure. The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is rising, making it increasingly difficult for Helen’s team to provide men with the care they deserve.

We need to be looking forward and developing more CNSs to keep our service sustainable
Helen CNS, Greater Manchester

The situation

Helen’s team:

  • 4.5 whole time equivalent (WTE band 7s) CNSs 
  • Two band 8a nurse clinicians

Helen said “We assist patients throughout their treatment journey and all the aftercare is nurse-led, mostly in community clinics.

“We also run a telephone helpline and a 24-hour service for urgent clinical queries, this is managed by experienced cancer nurses who direct the patient to the best person to help them.

“However, our service is very stretched. Like many departments, we treat prostate cancer patients alongside other cancer patients. To better support men with prostate cancer we need prostate cancer specific CNSs.

“To protect our workforce, we need to develop more CNSs. We currently don’t have a career pathway and everyone has very different roles, making our service unstable if somebody was to leave. Across the UK, many CNSs are being down banded and services diluted, making it harder to deliver the same care to men.

“To grow our workforce, more education opportunities and support in career progression is needed so we have capacity to treat men with prostate cancer in the future. The development of courses, such as a urology MSc module at Manchester University, will help to support this.

“To reduce pressure on our resources, primary care should be better set up to deliver follow up care instead of hospital based follow-up care. If patients were able to self-manage more, this would also help reduce our increasing workload. More research is needed into post hospital discharge in primary care to identify what men and GPs need to make this work.”