Macmillan nurses are specialist cancer nurses who can help you to understand your treatment options and support you through your cancer experience.

What does a Macmillan nurse do?

Macmillan nurses are specialist cancer nurses who can help you to understand your treatment options and support you through your cancer experience.

All Macmillan nurses have at least five years' experience, including at least two years' experience in cancer or palliative care. Many will also have completed specialist courses in pain and symptom management, or psychological support.

Most Macmillan nurses work in NHS hospitals or the community. A small number work in hospices and private hospitals, but do not charge for their services. As specialists, they assess complex needs and give advice to other healthcare professionals.

If you need more general nursing care, other nurses can help. We also employ nurses and other professionals:

How to get support

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. 

Types of Macmillan nurse

Macmillan nurses specialise in particular cancer types or treatments. Some examples include:

  • Macmillan chemotherapy nurses - give chemotherapy treatment to patients, and help them cope with any side effects.
  • Macmillan breast cancer nurses - support people from screening and diagnosis, to helping them to make informed decisions about treatment and care. 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 palliative care nurses - provide advice and support with pain and symptom management for people with palliative care needs through to end of life care. They support the person with cancer, their family, and the nurses and doctors who are looking after them. 
  • Macmillan lead nurses - are senior nurse managers, helping shape the future of cancer and palliative care services in their area.

How Macmillan nurses are funded

Most Macmillan nurses are 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 although the nurse continues to be called a Macmillan Nurse. Macmillan supports these nurses in various ways, for example by providing funding for their education and development. 

The nurses who work on the support line and in mobile information centres are employed directly by Macmillan.

How to become a Macmillan nurse

Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialists are registered nurses who have been educated to degree level and have completed postgraduate learning, or who are working towards postgraduate qualifications.

Find out more about how to become a Macmillan nurse

How we can help

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