NI health service gaining 60 specialist cancer care nurses and support workers
Sixty new specialist cancer care nurses and support workers are to be added to the health service workforce in Northern Ireland over the next five years.
The majority of the £11.5 million needed to fund the staff increase is being provided by charities.
The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) will allocate £2.4 million of public money, with Macmillan Cancer Support providing £7 million and the Friends of the Cancer Centre pledging a further £2.1 million.
Stormont Health Minister Simon Hamilton said: "More cancer specialist nurses are needed in Northern Ireland, and this significant investment will create around 60 new posts which is excellent news for local patients.
"The new clinical nurse specialists and support workers will be spread across all five health trusts and will focus on different cancer types, according to current patient need.
"Clinical nurse specialists work at the front line of cancer care, providing patients with support during and after treatment.
"They are the main point of contact for patients and their families, play a vital role in the coordination of care, and ensure that patients receive the holistic support they need to meet their clinical and emotional needs.
"They are greatly valued by patients and this investment will benefit patients directly with more nurses on the ground."
Heather Monteverde, head of Macmillan Cancer Support NI, said: "Macmillan first established clinical nurse specialists in the 1970s and we have been campaigning for the last 10 years to increase clinical nurse specialist numbers here in Northern Ireland.
"We have been working closely with the Health and Social Care Board and are delighted to be able to invest £7 million over the next five years to ensure that newly diagnosed patients are supported by a clinical nurse specialists - wherever they live, whatever type of cancer they have, and whichever hospital they attend for treatment."
Colleen Shaw, chief executive of Friends of the Cancer Centre, said the group was "committed to ensuring that cancer patients in Northern Ireland have access to the best possible care and we see clinical nurse specialists as a vital part in this.
"As a local charity we are delighted to invest £2.1 million into the future of specialist nursing which will benefit patients across Northern Ireland."