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New professional framework launched could help boost cancer workforce

26 January 2023

A new professional framework has been launched as part of the UK-wide Aspirant Cancer Career and Education Development programme (ACCEND).

Developed by Health Education England in partnership with Skills for Health, the framework provides a common language to support transformational reform in the education, training and career pathways of cancer support workers, nurses and AHP’s.

The framework lays out seven levels of practice from supportive, assistive, pre-registration and registration through to enhanced, advanced and consultant, supporting practitioners at all levels of the career pathway to develop the core knowledge, skills and behaviours to care for people affected by cancer.

Speaking about the ACCEND programme

Professor Mark Radford CBE, Chief Nurse, Health Education England said “Cancer is a complex and significant disease that affects 1 in 2 of us during our lifetimes.

“As scientific and technological innovations continue to improve our abilities to fight this challenging disease, it can become just as complex to ensure our cancer workforce is prepared for such rapid changes and advancements in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of cancer care.

“The ACCEND programme will support our cancer nurses and AHPs to stay fit for the future with a national framework of education pathways to help our staff to improve and expand their cancer services.

“The competences outline how nurses caring for adults living with and beyond cancer, can enhance their knowledge and skills and if they so wish, advance in a career in cancer nursing. It is aspirant in encouraging nurses to reach their best potential whether they are working in a supportive, assisted, or registered nursing role. It guides the core capabilities needed to nurse for people living with and beyond cancer at any point on their pathway without specifying the type of role required.”

Claire Taylor, Chief Nursing Officer at Macmillan comments:

“The framework comes at a particularly critical time for the UK nursing workforce; as we cope with increased waiting times and cancer backlogs. This framework inspires us to look forward and consider how we can develop ourselves and those around us. This is so important for both our professional development and our profession.

“It should be used alongside other professional frameworks, guidelines and standards published. It is easy to navigate and should be the ‘go to’ for all nurses who support people with cancer. I truly believe that ACCEND has the potential to be transformative in cancer nursing careers.”

The framework has also been endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing and United Kingdom Oncology Nursing Society (UKONS).

UKONS President Mark Foulkes said:

“UKONS would like to express their support for this capability framework specifically, and for the ACCEND programme more broadly. This important publication is the first step in providing all allied health professionals working with, and caring for, people with a cancer diagnosis with a single, clear educational framework.

“The absence of such a structure has been keenly felt and many of us on the UKONS board, UKONS champions and our members have been involved in the ACCEND programme which has this capability framework at its heart.

“Instead of sitting on a shelf, we believe this framework will be used widely and has been devised and structured to link with a wide range of resources which will guide and assist allied health professionals working within oncology from pre-registration through to consultant-level practitioners and strategic leaders.”

Nikki Morris, Chair of the Royal College of Nursing Cancer and Breast Care Forum adds:

“This framework is an essential resource for nurses to be in a position to provide the very best care today whilst also preparing the workforce to provide outstanding care in the future.

Knowledge and skillset lie at the core of providing all aspects of cancer care. This framework provides agreed descriptors, capabilities and career pathways to give uniformity and guidance to individual nurses, organisations and the general public.

 “The framework reflects the breadth of the modern cancer team and the requirements at each level of practice. The format is informative and easy to follow.

“We are proud to have been part of the team who have worked on this resource and are delighted at the reception that it has received particularly with those who have needed it the most - nurses.”

To download and view the Aspirant Cancer Career and Education Development (ACCEND) framework: https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/cancer-diagnostics/aspirant-cancer-career-education-development-programme/accend-cancer-career-framework