2014 Adult Cancer Specialist Nurse Census

2014 Adult Cancer Specialist Nurse Census

The first UK wide Specialist Adult Cancer Nurse Census was carried out in 2014

On 24 April this year, Macmillan commissioned the first UK-wide census of specialist adult cancer nurses and the England & Northern Ireland reports have now been published.

The 2014 Specialist Adult Cancer Specialist Nurse census has been carried out in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, the Strategic Clinical Networks/ Cancer Networks and a team of analysts based within Mouchel Management Consulting, supported by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI). A 97 per cent response rate was achieved and encouragingly, the number of nurses has increased by 10 per cent in England since the last census in 2011, keeping pace with the growth in the number of people diagnosed with cancer each year.

The proportion of nurses supported by Macmillan has also increased and now stands at 38 per cent of the total in England.

However, two themes emerged from the census data which need to be addressed. These are:

  1. Our specialist adult cancer nurse workforce is ageing – one in three nurses are aged 50 or over, rising to around one in two for some cancer types in certain parts of the country. Many of these older nurses will be approaching retirement in the next five to ten years.
  2. There are considerable variations in the provision of specialist cancer nurse expertise for those diagnosed with different cancer types and across geographic locations. The ratio varies up to seven-fold across England, meaning nurses are spread much more thinly in some areas compared to others.

The statistics are mainly intended for commissioners and workforce planners to know the current status of the adult cancer workforce and any potential issues that could arise in the future.

The aim going forward is to include this work in a regular rolling programme of data collection recognised by policy leads, workforce advisors, directors of nursing and both provider and commissioning organisations.

Macmillan has called on health and social care commissioners and providers across the UK to work with them to address the workforce challenges identified by this census for the benefit of people affected by cancer.

The census reports for Wales was added in July 2015 with the report from Scotland to be produced later in 2015.

The England report can be found at the link below:


The Northern Ireland report can be found at the link below:


The Wales report can be found at the link below:


The census has been undertaken in England only in previous years, commissioned by National Cancer Action Team (NCAT) and was supported by the Cancer Network Nurse Directors and lead cancer nurses.

External links