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cancer, clinical nurse specialists, COVID-19



  1. Forster, Alice S. PhD
  2. Zylstra, Janine PhD
  3. von Wagner, Christian PhD
  4. Hirst, Yasemin PhD
  5. Forster, Martin PhD, MBBS, FRCP
  6. Walshe, Rebecca MBBS
  7. Kazzaz, Zainab MSc
  8. Steptoe, Andrew PhD
  9. Birchall, Martin MD, MA, MB, BChir, FRCS
  10. Patani, Neill PhD, MBBS, BSc, FRCS


Purpose/Aims: Uptake and delivery of cancer services across the United Kingdom have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to understand the impact of the pandemic on the working practices of clinical nurse specialists and their patient interactions across different cancer specialties.


Design: We performed a cross-sectional survey exploring nurses' experiences of delivering care during the pandemic, as well as their perceptions of the concerns that cancer patients were experiencing.


Methods: Clinical nurse specialists working in London cancer services were invited to complete an online questionnaire. Nurses' experiences and their perceptions of patients' concerns were analyzed descriptively.


Results: Fifty-four nurses participated. Almost half had been redeployed to other clinical areas during the pandemic (n = 19). COVID-19 discussions added 5 to 10 minutes on average to most consultations, with nurses either working longer/unpaid hours (34%) or spending less time talking to patients about cancer (39%) to deal with this. Approximately 50% of nurses would have liked additional information and support from their hospital.


Conclusions: Clinical nurse specialist time and resources have been stretched during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals need to work with nursing staff to ensure the specific information needs of cancer patients are being met.