For many people affected by cancer, Macmillan nurses are a valued and trusted source of expert information, advice and support - free of charge. As of December 2011, there were 3,707 Macmillan nurse posts across the UK, both in hospitals and in the community.
About Macmillan nurses
All Macmillan nurses are registered nurses with at least five years' experience, including two or more years in cancer or palliative care. They complete specialist courses in managing pain and other symptoms, and in psychological support.
Macmillan nurses are usually employed by the NHS and their posts are funded by Macmillan for a set time, often for the first three years. After that time, the long-term funding is taken up by the NHS or other partner organisations.
The nurses work in NHS hospitals and the community, and aren't usually associated with private health care. They do not undertake routine nursing tasks, but if you need this kind of support, there are other nurses who can help.
Types of Macmillan nurses
Some Macmillan nurses specialise in particular cancer types or treatments:
Macmillan chemotherapy nurses give chemotherapy treatment to patients, and help them cope with any side effects.
Macmillan breast cancer nurses support women from the screening and diagnosis stage helping them to make informed decisions. They give practical and emotional support and help some women come to terms with a mastectomy.
Macmillan paediatric nurses help children with cancer, and their families. They provide support for the child and parents at home and in hospital, and help to keep children at home with their families as much as possible.
Macmillan lead nurses are senior nurse managers, helping shape the future of cancer and palliative care services in their area.
How to get support from a Macmillan nurse
You'll need to be referred by your GP, your hospital consultant, a district nurse or a hospital ward sister. Don't hesitate to ask them if there are Macmillan nurses available in your area.
Macmillan nurses work throughout the country, but if there isn't a Macmillan service in your local area, you can be referred to alternative specialist services. Call us to find out about getting a referral for a Macmillan nurse.
Find out more about Macmillan nurses in our FAQ.
How Macmillan nurses are funded
Macmillan nurses are funded almost entirely through the generous voluntary donations of our supporters. If you’d like to help us continue to provide their vital services – and increase the number of Macmillan nurses available to people with cancer – you can. Please consider setting up a regular direct debit and continuing to support us throughout the year.