EONS Position Statement: The role of nurses in cancer care


    EONS believes that there is a real need to consider the impact of policy trends and political decisions by individual Member States on the EU nursing workforce and specifically on the development of nursing skills and competencies for cancer nurses. The time is ripe to address these issues at EU level, in a tangible and focused way. EONS Position statement on the Role of Nurses in Cancer Care should be a set of useful arguments in all levels of the discussion around skills and competencies of the nursing workforce in cancer care within the rapidly changing healthcare System.

    It is the position of the European Oncology Nursing Society that:

    • A cancer nurse has the authority and full responsibility to provide care for patients and relatives based on a scientific, ethical and personal knowledge and skills.
    • A cancer nurse has the clinical leadership skills to organize, coordinate, evaluate and adjust the care and pathways for the patients.
    • A cancer nurse applies a critical and scientific approach in decision making and is responsible for evidence based care and can take the lead in initiating new research in cancer nursing.
    • A cancer nurse enhances patient safety and the quality and effectiveness of care delivery and is thus essential and irreplaceable in the provision of patient care services in cancer care.
    • Cancer nurses are fully accountable in all cancer care settings for all nursing services and associated patient outcomes provided under their direction.

    EONS believes that the public has a right to expect that cancer nurses demonstrate professional competence throughout their work. EONS believes that it is a cancer nurses’ responsibility to shape and guide any process that assures high quality education and training in cancer care and treatment.

    Regulatory agencies define the minimum standards needed for the regulation of practice to protect the public. The employer is responsible and accountable to provide an environment conducive to competent practice. Assurance of competence is the shared responsibility of the healthcare professions, individual healthcare professionals, professional organizations, credentialing and certification entities, regulatory agencies, employers, and other key stakeholders.


    1. Farrell C, et al. Exploring the scope of oncology specialist nurses' practice in the UK. Eur J Oncol Nursing, 2011, 15(2): 160-6.

    2. Cowman S et al. Evaluation of the Role of the Clinical Nurse Specialist in Cancer Care. (2010).

    3. Excellence in Cancer Care: The Contribution of the Clinical Nurse Specialist (2010).

    Board Approval Date: 20 December 2012.
    Next Revision Date: December 2014.

    This statement was issued by EONS and other international cancer nursing organisations in February 2015.