Professor Richards' full letter

Message fromĀ Professor Mike Richards
National Cancer Director

Advanced communication skills training for cancer clinicians

Dear colleague

Effective communication between patients and clinicians is fundamental to the delivery of high-quality cancer care. We know how highly patients and their carers value good communication. Sadly, we also know that communication is sometimes poor.

In the past, it was generally assumed that doctors and nurses were intrinsically either good or poor communicators. Now, however, we know from a sound body of research, much of which was conducted in this country, that communication skills can be improved through experiential learning.

With this in mind, a commitment was made in the NHS Cancer Plan (2000) that advanced communication skills would form part of continuing professional development. This commitment was reinforced in the NICE guidance on supportive and palliative care (2004), which emphasised that commissioners should ensure that accredited training courses are available for all health and social care staff working with cancer patients.

To make these commitments a reality, Connected, the national communication skills programme, has been developed for the NHS by leaders in the field from Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie Cancer Care. The programme is based on evidence showing the effectiveness of three-day workshops that are learner-centred and involve role play and feedback. The programme has been piloted and validated and a cadre of experienced facilitators has been trained to deliver courses to senior health professionals.

This excellent programme is now widely available across the NHS in England, enabling senior clinicians to enhance their skills and their confidence so that patients and their families experience of care can be improved.

I hope you enjoy and benefit from the programme and use your enhanced skills to help others in your team and in your care.


Professor Mike Richards
National Cancer Director

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About Connected

The course is aimed at senior healthcare professionals who work primarily in the field of cancer and utilises an interactive workshop approach.
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