Macmillan Cancer Specialist Nurse Workforce Development Programme in the North East and Yorkshire

The Northern Cancer Alliance (NCA) in collaboration with Macmillan Cancer Support (MCS), Health Education England (HEE), Yorkshire Cancer Alliances and Provider Trusts across North East Yorkshire (NEY) are participating in an innovative approach to improve the supply of Cancer Nurse Specialists (CNS).

We know from previous CNS census studies that a high percentage of the current CNS workforce will be retiring over the next three years. This CNS development programme, funded by MCS, will support the participants to develop and learn the required level of knowledge & skill to strengthen any future application for a CNS post and to prepare them for this role.

Each Provider Trust identified two band 5 nurses who were seconded onto the Development Programme for a two-year fixed term period. Across NEY the total number of nurses participating in this programme is 42 and each of them will be supported by a clinical mentor from their own organisation.

The first six months of the two-year programme is supernumerary and will focus on academic work and observational experience with specialist cancer nursing teams. In this first six months the nurses would not hold a case load of patients. The academic work is funded by HEE which includes Principles of Integrated Care in Cancer and other Long-Term Conditions, Physical Skills (both provided by Teesside University) and a Leadership Development course.

At the end of first six months, nurses would be assessed against a set of competencies and if appropriate will join a cancer nursing team at Band 6, where they would begin supporting patients clinically with clinical oversight from their identified mentor.

The academic work for this programme started in October 2022, and the participants have been encouraged to join on-line sessions to share their learning and reflections to date and on 28th February there is a face-to-face study day/conference for participants entitled “Inspire and Aspire.”

To support the overall co-ordination, governance and oversight of the Programme, the four Cancer Alliances in NEY agreed to jointly fund a Programme Lead.  The postholder started at the beginning of February 2023 and is hosted by West Yorkshire & Harrogate Cancer Alliance (WYH) and will adhere to governance structure within WYH Cancer Alliance.

There will be a full evaluation of this approach to developing a specialist workforce and a report with recommendations which will feed back to all the Provider Trusts, Cancer Alliances and HEE.

Watch this space and we will provide regular updates on the progress of this innovative programme and if you have any questions, please contact either Karen Stenlund, NCA Workforce Lead ( or Nicky Lambert, NCA Clinical Lead for Nursing (