In Brain News

Get to know a Neuro-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist

Even before a brain tumour diagnosis is made, you are likely to have met several different healthcare professionals. One person who can offer you a wealth of support is your clinical nurse specialist (CNS). But what exactly does a CNS do?

Gill Walsh, Neuro-oncology clinical nurse specialist at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, tells us more about her role:

What does your role involve?

I am the Neuro-oncology clinical nurse specialist supporting patients with primary high grade (malignant) brain tumours in Sussex. I act as the key contact and advocate for those with newly diagnosed tumours. I am like the hub of a wheel, supporting the patient and linking in with the other services involved in their care both in the hospital and the community.

What sort of questions can people come to you with?

Anything! I might not be able to answer your questions straight away, but if I can’t, I can ask the right people on your behalf. We aim to provide information on practical, financial, social and emotional issues. This will not all be at the same time, as we do not want to overwhelm you, but as and when you feel that it is needed. We encourage patients to be involved in their own care as much as possible, and our support worker is an expert in signposting you in the right direction.

Because a brain tumour diagnosis impacts family and friends, as well as the person diagnosed, your loved ones can speak to your clinical nurse specialist too (with the patient’s consent).

We provide dedicated support for you when someone you love has a brain tumour – click here to find out more.

When are people put in touch with a clinical nurse specialist?

I often meet my patients and their families for the first time when they are given their histology results, but increasingly we may meet pre-operatively as the Neuro-oncology service expands. This service does vary with my Nurse Specialist colleague. There are occasions when someone may have surgery in Brighton, but live outside our area and have treatment elsewhere (such as Maidstone, London or Portsmouth). In this situation you should be put in contact with the Nurse Specialists for those teams.

How many CNSs are there at Princess Royal Hospital?

In addition to myself, I have a colleague who supports patients with low grade tumours. We work very closely together. There is also a skull based tumour nurse specialist, and a separate service for patients diagnosed with pituitary tumours.

How do you work with the rest of the team at Princess Royal?

As a Neuro-oncology team we work very closely together, liaising frequently about patient care and providing what we feel is an excellent service.

We know that meeting so many different healthcare professionals on your brain tumour journey can be confusing. Our guide to Who’s Who in your Clinical Team contains information about different HCPs and what their roles are, so that you can feel confident, not confused, when engaging with HCPs about your care. Click here to download the guide.