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Cancer nursing (ONMSD)

The field of oncology and the role of cancer nurses are evolving. Evaluation of the National Cancer Strategy (2006) and the 2014 evaluation of the 2006 cancer strategy recommended a major role for nurses in the organisation of cancer care services.

Role of the national clinical lead for cancer nursing (ONMSD)

The role of the national clinical lead for cancer nursing, in the Office of Nursing and Midwifery Services Director (ONMSD), is to:

  • lead on planning, development and implementation of key nursing recommendations within the National Cancer Strategy
  • work collaboratively with the Department of Health (DoH) the ONMSD and other clinical colleagues to ensure an integrated nursing leadership infrastructure for cancer nursing
  • lead on the development of a national comprehensive nursing workforce plan in the context of multidisciplinary team members for cancer services
  • support cancer nurses to undertake and promote research
  • lead on the nursing contribution to cancer patient information systems


Terry Hanan - National Cancer Control Programme, National Clinical Lead for Cancer Nursing

Phone: 01 828 7117 / 087 224 8596

About cancer nurses

Registered general nurses (RGN's), registered children nurses (RCN's), registered public health nurses (RPHN's), community registered general nurses (CRGN's) and registered advanced nurse practitioners (RANP's), have a role in the care and management of patients with cancer.

There are many examples of clinical nurse specialist's (CNS's) and registered advanced nurse practitioners (RANP's) nurse-led services. Services include:

  • oral chemotherapy clinics
  • unscheduled care clinics
  • survivorship clinics
  • review clinics
  • telephone triage
  • follow-up support

Cancer nurses commit to the following to ensure the delivery of the best possible cancer care

  • advances in treatment and technologies
  • building knowledge of cancer populations
  • lifelong learning
  • the health care system

Clinical practice or the direct delivery of patient care is a core feature of nursing roles and includes

  • assessment
  • supportive care
  • administration of treatments
  • management of patient symptoms


The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) in collaboration with the ONMSD published a strategy and educational framework for nurses caring for people with cancer in Ireland (2012). This document specifies the competencies required by generalist and specialist nurses who care for people with cancer in Ireland.

This framework informs the curriculum content of cancer education programmes. Programmes range from in-service day programmes run through the Centres of Nursing Midwifery education (CNME's), to formalised accredited postgraduate diploma and masters level delivered programmes in third level institutions. The objectives of these programmes is to enhance knowledge, skills and competence of those caring for cancer patients.

Registered Nurses (RN's) need to acquire the competencies to independently deliver care and treatments. It is critical that nurses moving forward maintain clinical competence. Employers need to support oncology nurses, to maintain their professional competence.

There are 26 hospitals nationally that deliver systemic anti-cancer treatment (SACT) to patients. SACT refers to all chemotherapy biological agents and vaccines given with the purpose of treating malignancies. Nurses working in these services are key to the delivery of safe patient centred care.

Specialist and advanced practice

Clinical nurse specialists (CNS's) deliver specialised care in site specific cancer nursing roles, such as haematology, palliative care, oncology and outreach paediatric services.

Advanced Nurse Practitioner's (ANPs) work across the spectrum of medical oncology, radiation-oncology, haemato-oncology, palliative care and paediatric services.

Related topics

Specialist Practice

Advanced Practice


Nurses have a key role in the development of a culture of research in cancer control. As multidisciplinary team members they have a leading role in undertaking research which aims to enhance the care delivered to cancer patients.

Cancer research focuses on some of the following areas:

  • children with cancer
  • cancer survivorship
  • cancer and ageing
  • service and practice development within specialist care for adults with cancer

The NCCP are keen to build capacity in nursing to make a substantial contribution to leading cancer care research in Ireland.

The NCCP plan to hold annual masterclasses on research and evidence based practice. The first of these is being held in November 2019 for ANPs working in oncology, haemato-oncology, radiation oncology and paediatric oncology.

In May 2019 a call went live for a HRB/ICS/ONMSD/NCCP cancer nursing research award. The purpose of this grant is to support nurses to undertake clinical research in collaboration with their academic partners.

Related topics

National Cancer Control Programme

Irish Cancer Society - Research funding opportunities