Friday 7th September 2012
In the summer 2011 edition of Mac Voice we outlined Macmillan’s future direction. Here, Workforce Programme Lead Mary Dowglass explains how Macmillan plans to develop the cancer workforce.
The story of Macmillan has at its centre, the introduction, development and expansion of the specialist nurse role. Over time, this role has been complemented by other professional roles to ensure the physical, emotional, social, financial and information needs of people affected by cancer are met.
But cancer is changing, and we need a cancer workforce that meets the needs of this changing story.
We want people living with cancer to be supported by a qualified team of practitioners that delivers effective interventions at the right time and in the right place. When we set out to develop our cancer workforce strategy, we had an aspiration to match the supply of Macmillan professionals to the needs of people affected by cancer.
We undertook some detailed work based on new information about tumour groups and survival rates, and have based our plans on this.
This scoping work showed that the main challenges for clinical leaders are integrating services, improving productivity and flexibility, and ensuring there is a supply of professionals aiming to specialise in cancer services.
Recruitment and development
Macmillan has an important role to play in recruiting the very best people into the cancer workforce; to ensure professionals are oriented to the new cancer story; and that professionals are able to work in an integrated team of the future.
We will do this by supporting development opportunities, creating rotational placements for non-specialists into specialist services, and developing the new skills needed to work with advances in technology.
Shaping of the team
We mapped the workforce against the whole cancer pathway and realised that we needed to do more during rehabilitation and follow-up (monitoring) phases. We plan to build capacity and skills closer to people’s homes by developing the role of the practice nurse. This will be based on the same model as our GP facilitators and is an effective way of increasing the skills of non-specialists.
The new roles are still at the trial stage, but as Dr Charles Campion-Smith, Macmillan GP Adviser, says, ‘This project will build on the success that practice nurses have already shown in managing other long-term illnesses, ensuring people affected by cancer are fully supported by their GP practices to manage their condition.’
We will also set up new posts focussed on care coordination to support people once their acute care is complete. This will free up time spent on administration so that professionals can devote more time to assessing, planning and supporting self-management.
By building these new roles into places where we are working with partners to redesign systems, we will be able to test the impact of the new teams and work with employers on the best use of different types of staff.
An indicative role specification for the care coordination role has been developed and is now available.
Responding to local needs
We need to develop a flexible approach that isn’t rigid, but can identify and respond to medium-term local needs and new models of care. You can contribute by telling us about your experience with new ways of working and by contacting your Macmillan Development Manager to explore scope for new roles.