The European Oncology Nursing Society at the heart of oncopolicy in Europe
EONS Board Member Andreas Charalambous is a member of ECCO’s Oncopolicy Committee. Here he explains how EONS, with ECCO, is helping to shape the future of cancer care in the best interests of oncology nurses and patients.
What is oncopolicy? How is EONS getting involved to help bring change?
European oncopolicy is the only sustainable way that change can be introduced, with a positive impact on the care of patients across their whole cancer journey. The role of EONS, on oncopolicy committees and in specific policy-driven initiatives, is instrumental in exerting influence across the spectrum – from the way that care is provided in the community, to research and the implementation of evidence-based practice. It is here that the voice of nurses will be heard and will help shape the future landscape of cancer care throughout Europe.
EONS is one of the founding members of the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO). As the only multidisciplinary organisation within the cancer care context, ECCO is leading oncopolicy initiatives and influencing policies driven by other organisations.
What does this mean in practice?
Healthcare professionals working with patients diagnosed with cancer across Europe face many challenges. The environment of cancer care is rapidly changing: by the increased cancer incidences, the introduction of new treatments, the complexity of the care, the prolonged survival rates, the increased mobility of patients as well as healthcare professionals and the fiscal crisis, to name just a few.
To respond to these changes and their potential negative impact on the care provided, ECCO set up the ECCO Oncopolicy Committee and the ECCO Oncopolicy Executive Committee to:
- speak with a single voice on wider policy issues
- engage other stakeholders in cancer research, innovation, treatment, care and education
- be a driving force in oncology, and
- be pro-active in Europe.
EONS holds a seat on both committees, through its representative, Board Member Andreas Charalambous. This way EONS can disseminate knowledge and expertise on behalf of its members on issues that will closely effect the working lives of nurses and their patients.
EONS – Influence where it matters
EONS is at the heart of this all-important work. ECCO has set up a number of distinct projects that will have a big impact on policy making. One of the most significant of these for cancer nurses is the Recognising European Cancer Nursing project, or RECaN. (See the article by Mary Wells in this issue). It is led by EONS, in partnership with ECCO, and overseen by EONS President Daniel Kelly and Board Member Andreas Charalambous.
Another, is the Essential requirements for quality cancer care project (ERQCC). This project is currently dealing with colorectal cancer and children and adults’ soft tissues and bone sarcomas. EONS, as a partner in this project, has nominated experts in these fields who will contribute their knowledge and expertise from the nursing perspective and within the multidisciplinary context. (See interview with Verna Lavender and Claire Taylor in this issue).
EONS can also influence the policy of other organisations through its role on the oncopolicy committees. Such policy initiatives include the European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer (ECIBC project). Here, EONS, through its assigned nursing specialists in the field, will help formulate a new version of the European Guidelines for Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis (the European Breast Guidelines) and, with other stakeholders, construct guidelines covering all care processes, from screening to end-of-life care.
Another important policy project is the CanCon Joint Action - European Guide on Quality Improvement in Comprehensive Cancer Control. ECCO is an Associated Partner supporting the core Work Package 4 - Guide Coordination, and also active as Collaborating Partner in Work Package 8, on Survivorship. Here, EONS provided constructive comments from the nursing perspective to the recent updates of these work packages, to reflect a better understanding of the needs of the patients and the nature of the work provided by nurses.
EONS’ representative Andreas Charalambous also attended the Horizon 2020 Scientific Panel for Health on behalf of ECCO Oncopolicy Committee, where he provided the organisation’s perspective on how to advance the research capabilities of the healthcare workforce in the coming years.
Andreas Charalambous is Chair of the EONS Research Working Group. He is an Assistant Professor of Oncology and Palliative Care at the Cyprus University of Technology and an Associate Professor at the University of Turku, Finland. He is also the founder and current President of the Cyprus Oncology Nursing Society, and a Member of ECCO’s Oncopolicy Executive.