The UKONS Board is made up of executive officers, members, co-opted members and prospective members.
The Board meet at face-to-face meetings four times a year and have regular telephone meetings throughout the year.
Each year the Board has at least one major work plan to deliver, as well as the UKONS annual conference to plan and organise with our Secretariat, Media1 Productions Ltd.
Dr Verna Lavender is a registered nurse and scientist. She is Senior Lecturer in Cancer Care, Cancer Nurse Researcher and Oxford Clinical Academic Fellow. Since qualifying as a nurse in 1987, Verna has worked in a variety of health service settings, including acute and primary care, cancer care education and training, and service improvement and research. She is passionate about cancer nursing research to improve outcomes of people with cancer and has won the Royal College of Nursing International Excellence in Cancer Research award in 2016. Her current research focuses on nursing people receiving systemic anti-cancer treatments and models of nursing care, particularly in cancer clinical trials. Verna is a member of several cancer nursing societies and has worked with cancer charities throughout her career.
Mark has been in post as Nurse Consultant and Lead Cancer Nurse at the Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust since 2007.
He has a professional link with Oxford Brookes University and teaches there on a regular basis. He spends half his time working clinically on the Acute Oncology Team and in 2016 received a ‘Pride of Reading’ Award for his work with cancer patients.
Mark has presented widely on a range of subjects and has a particular interest in nurse-led services, innovative approaches to cancer care delivery and the political backdrop to cancer services. In 2018 he was voted onto the board of the UK Oncology Nursing Society (UKONS) where he leads for nurse education.
He has an interest in music and runs a monthly music night. He fences with epee and is a keen cyclist. In 2015 he rode from Reading to Barcelona for charity on a tandem with Dr Joss Adams, one of his medical consultant colleagues.
Helen has been a UKONS Board member for a number of years and key leader of the Chemotherapy / Systemic Anti-Cancer Treatment (SACT) Members Interest Group (MIG) until recently. Day-to-day Helen is employed as Consultant Cancer Nurse by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which is part of the Northern Cancer Alliance. Helen is also a Consultant Editor for the British Journal of Nursing Oncology supplement.
Helen has worked in adult cancer care for most of her career and continues to provide a role, which enables her to remain very clinical, yet also be active in both research, service developments and educating others. She has developed a wealth of skills, knowledge and expertise in patient care, leadership and service development, all of which influence her day to day practice and ultimately the patient care she provides.
Her specialist area of clinical expertise is the management of patients with breast cancer. This involves assessing patients; managing symptoms and treatment toxicities, prescribing, requesting radiological investigations, developing and leading services i.e. homecare service, requesting Oncotype DX testing and ensuring patients are offered the opportunities to take part in research. She has presented at many conferences, from local to international; published extensively on an array of topics; developed on-line education modules and delivers national extravasation training events.
Teenage Cancer Trust Lead Nurse – Teenagers & Young Adults
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
Nellie is an experienced advanced nurse practitioner with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Nellie has been working in the field of oncology for sixteen years in a variety of roles. Areas’ of interest include advanced practice, nurse led initiatives and skin cancer.
Karen Campbell holds a post within the Professional Development and Knowledge team within Macmillan Cancer Support. Since 2018, Karen is responsible for the delivery management of education to Macmillan professional, people affected by cancer and the wider workforce across the UK. Karen held an Associate Professor post from 2015-2018 at Edinburgh Napier University where she led the Cancer Collaborate Theme. Karen has led programmes of research including the National Evaluation for the Transforming Care After Treatment (TCAT) (2014-2018) which included a Realist Evaluation of Holistic needs assessment, delivered across health care settings. In addition, Karen held the Master programme leadership in Advanced Nursing Practice, where she led on the development of cancer education in malignant haematology and caring for people affected by cancer. Karen is currently undertaking her Clinical Doctorate at Stirling University exploring the experience of care in haematology cancer patients in the last year of their life.
Jane is the Group Head of Clinical Services – cancer, end of life care and medicines management for Spire Healthcare. She has worked in cancer care for over twelve years and is passionate about providing the best services possible for patients and their families.
Her key areas of interest are ensuring that nurses are skilled and confident to deliver high quality care, developing innovative new services focused on the needs of patients and their carers and developing the leadership potential of all nurses within cancer care.
My name is Debbie Wightman, I have 27 years nursing experience. 20 years have been working as an intensive care nurse caring for neonates, children and adults.
In 2012, I had the privilege to transfer to a management role and work with staff and patients within Oncology and Haematology. In this position, I was able to develop the service and lead the implementation of the Regional Information System for Oncology and Haematology, an electronic patient record and electronic prescribing system ensuring safe standardisation of care and treatment which is protocol driven and based upon regionally agreed clinical management guidelines.
In 2017, I became the Divisional Nurse for Cancer and Specialist Medicine and Lead Cancer Nurse for the Belfast H&SC Trust. This is very much a leadership position within the organisation, one which I am honoured to hold. This strategic role enables me to influence the nursing workforce within Northern Ireland, working in partnership with other nurse leaders throughout the region to develop a clear and valued career pathway for cancer nurses, investing in education which is evidence based, person centred, co- produced and designed for and with our patients.
I am passionate about raising the profile of cancer nursing within Northern Ireland, enabling us to work collaboratively to ensure we share best practice and knowledge and in doing so develop a skilled confident, competent workforce of nurses with the ability and passion to deliver high quality care, which is cutting edge, innovative, focusing on the needs of our patients whilst creating a close network of support, education and learning.
Board Member - Communications Lead
NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow
Twitter: @MerryTea Linked In: Mary Tanay
Mary’s nursing experience spans almost 20 years spent in various surgical and medical oncology settings. For several years, she was a unit lead research nurse at the Royal Marsden Hospital where she supported patients who participated in studies that explored supportive therapies, IMRT, chemotherapy and targeted cancer agents. She completed a Royal Marsden Diploma in Cancer Nursing. After gaining an MSc in Nursing Research at King’s College London, she joined King’s Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care in 2011 as Senior Teaching Fellow. Mary holds a PGCert in Healthcare Education and is also a Fellow of the UK HEA. Her research interests include patient experience, survivorship and supportive care in cancer with focus on chemotherapy related neuropathy. In 2019, Mary was awarded a Doctoral Research Fellowship by the National Institute of Health Research. Mary was involved in the development of materials such as the UKONS SACT Passport, CR-UK Your Cancer Treatment Record Book, and ESMO-EONS Head and Neck Patient Information Sheet. Mary is member of Communications Group of the European ONS.
Board Member - LWBC MIG Lead
Since 2006, Sandra has been employed in NHS Forth Valley as a Macmillan Nurse Consultant in Cancer and Palliative Care. Her remit covers acute and primary care and involves engagement on a strategic level with partners in local authorities and voluntary agencies. She has a particular interest in how patients and carers live with and beyond a diagnosis of cancer and the impact of that diagnosis on the whole family as well as a particular interest in the provision of end of life care. Her passion lies with how UKONS supports staff to deliver the best care possible and she holds the belief that good communication is absolutely fundamental to all nursing, leading on communication training locally.
Nurses are in an ideal position to ensure the best care and communication possible for patients and those close to them. Education for cancer nurses and those caring for patients with cancer is essential to facilitate this. UKONS is an excellent example of how nurses can be provided with the information and knowledge they require to influence effective change. Sandra has been impressed with initiatives through UKONS and how these have improved care. The latest initiative, Consequences of Cancer Treatment will help take forward the whole survivorship agenda and she would welcome the opportunity to support this process. Another challenge is enhancing the value of specialist palliative care along the cancer pathway. Sandra was the national clinical lead for PEOLC between April 2017 and April 2019.
With Sandra’s joint responsibility, she can bring a different perspective to the Board.
Board Member - SACT MIG Lead
Chemotherapy Nurse Consultant
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
I have been in oncology for approximately 13 years and a UK ONS member for 10 years. During this time I have worked in a variety of areas, including research, ambulatory care, Acute Oncology and Cancer of Unknown Primary; I have also undertaken different roles including clinical nurse specialist, nurse manager and cancer matron, most recently becoming the Chemotherapy Nurse Consultant for the Royal Marsden Hospital.
I am very interested in the development of extended practice roles and innovative, new models of care, that allow patients to have their treatments closer to home, outside the hospital setting. I am also a keen advocate of nurse education and supporting nurses’ role development. Currently I’m developing multi-professional chemotherapy on-treat clinics with a Consultant pharmacist colleague, supporting and extending new community based SACT services for the Trust, and reviewing our whole ambulatory care patient pathway.
Board Member - AOS MIG Lead
Macmillan Consultant Nurse SACT/Oncology
(Lead Nurse SACT), NHS Highland
Fiona is the Macmillan Consultant Nurse SACT and the Lead Nurse for SACT in NHS Highland. She is based in Raigmore Hospital, one of the 5 Scottish Cancer Centres. Fiona has worked in cancer care for over thirty years, 25 of which have been based in NHS Highland and during this time, has played a key role in shaping the SACT nursing service that exists there today. Fiona has been a member of UKONS from its earliest days and actively promotes membership of the organisation amongst cancer nurses and allied professionals.
Fiona’s current role comprises both clinical and strategic roles requiring up to date knowledge and skills but also providing professional leadership for the SACT nursing service. Fiona is passionate about providing the optimum possible care for all patients and their families undergoing SACT and also about ensuring the development of the existing workforce to meet the challenges of the future. NHS Highland covers a massive geographical area and care is also delivered to patients from NHS Western Isles therefore the challenges of ensuring close professional collaboration and co-operation to deliver safe care to a remote and rural population are also a key interest.
Fiona is actively involved in delivering nurse-led clinics for the assessment and prescribing of SACT and supportive care to patients of all cancer diagnoses, undergoing treatment, including those living and receiving SACT and supportive treatments remotely. She provides professional leadership, practical assistance and advice to SACT professionals and others as appropriate.
Fiona is the nurse member of the Lead SACT team for NHS Highland. A key role of the team is to ensure that NHS Highland fulfils the requirements of CEL 30(2012) WHICH IS THE Guidance for the Safe Delivery of SACT pertaining to Scotland.
Board Member - Radiotherapy MIG Lead
Una is an Assistant Director of Nursing for Cancer and Diagnostic services based at the North West Cancer Centre, Londonderry, Northern Ireland. She has been a member of UKONS since 2011 and has worked as a cancer nurse since 1998. Una has worked in various roles and has specialised in SACT nursing, Breast care nursing and more recently led the development of the second cancer centre in Northern Ireland. As Assistant Director of Nursing Una’s aim is to develop a culture of person-centred care in an environment of continuous quality improvement, by empowering staff through evidence based practice, co-production and partnership working. Una has worked across health boundaries both within Northern Ireland and across countries. She was part of the team who developed radiotherapy referral pathways between countries in the first cross-border cancer treatment facility in Ireland. Her work was recognised with an award from the Chief Nursing Officers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for cross country working in 2016. Since 2009 Una has delivered advanced communication programmes through her role as a programme facilitator, she is passionate about the importance of healthcare professionals being skilled to have complex discussions with patients and their families in relation to their treatment and care. As a UKONS board member and senior nurse in Northern Ireland she is driven to bring the UKONS vision to nurses and have the opportunity to share cancer strategy, best practice and inspire cancer nurses.
Board Member - UKONS Champions Lead
I started at the Royal Marsden School in February 2019 as a lecturer practitioner. Before moving here I had spent the last three years as Head of SACT services in a large NHS Trust which had a tertiary cancer centre and two DGH sites.
Development and support of staff is always something I have been passionate about. I have also trained as a Schwartz facilitator. As part of UKONS board I am the deputy of the SACT MIG as this remains a key area of interest for me.
My oncology experience has been wide and varied in my 30+ years career and includes being a Sister of a general cancer ward and a chemotherapy day unit, Lead Nurse at a tertiary cancer centre, Cancer Network Nurse Director and 10 years as Head of Nursing Cancer and palliative care. I have also worked for a brief time as a clinical nurse specialist in the distance past.
Co-opted Board Member, SACT
Chemotherapy Nurse Consultant, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London
Dr Catherine Oakley has worked in cancer care for over 20 years as a clinical nurse specialist, lead cancer nurse and in general management. She has developed strategies for cancer patient involvement and health promotion.
Her main area of interest is Systemic Anti-Cancer Therapy (SACT), in particular, home support, symptom reporting and oral SACT (the topic of her research for her Masters degree). After developing a generic patient oral SACT diary, Catherine and her colleague Jo Johnson were awarded the 2008 European Oncology Nursing Society prize for excellence in patient education materials and the 2009 Nursing Standard award for best practice in medication administration. Catherine has been an investigator and provided advice on national projects, including a review of cancer inpatient admissions, the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death within 30 days of systemic anticancer therapy, the Rapid Response Report on risks of incorrect dosing of oral anti-cancer medicines (2008) and the NICE Neutropenic Sepsis Guidelines (2012). She was more recently a member of the Cancer Taskforce that developed the National Cancer Strategy. Catherine’s NIHR funded PhD conducted through Kings College London University, explored why patients’ delay presenting with neutropenic sepsis.
Board Member - Haem-onc MIG Lead