CANCER NURSES throughout the world are mourning the loss of one of nursing's most dynamic leaders. Robert Tiffany's career at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, spanned 27 years and during this time he became universally acknowledged as the world's leading cancer nurse.
He came to the Royal Marsden in 1965 from Bury General Hospital, where he had completed his basic training, to follow the oncology nursing course. After working as a theatre charge nurse and night charge nurse he joined the Department of Nursing Studies as a Tutor, and in 1970 became Director of Nursing Studies.
During the next six years Tiffany introduced the first nationally recognised courses in cancer nursing and laid the foundations for educational programmes which have developed over the years into a comprehensive academic package enabling nurses to study cancer nursing at Diploma, Degree and Higher Degree level and prepare them for advancecd clinical practice. In 1976 he became Chief Nursing Officer and 10 years later was appointed to the additional post of Director of Patient Services.
As a manager he never lost his roots in clinical practice and through his passion for excellence he totally transformed nursing at the Royal Marsden. He believed that cancer patients had the right to be nursed by a highly qualified and skilled workforce. By developing roles for nurses as clinical specialists, educated by the experts in each area, patients were ensured continuity of care between in-patient, out-patient and home care. His vision of nursing integrated clinical practice, management, education and research skills and over the years his enthusiasm attracted many nurses with similar ideals to the hospital.
Tiffany was very active in international matters, especially in organising conferences. After the success of the first international cancer nursing conference held in London in 1978 he was involved in organising and advising on conferences all over the world, culminating in a conference held in Vienna last year, where glowing tributes were paid to him as outgoing President of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care.
He found time for an enormous number of professional activities both at home and abroad. He was elected to the Council of the Royal College of Nursing for a number of years, and was a former Chairman of the European Oncology Nursing Society. He was the only nurse member of the World Health Organisation's Expert Panel on Cancer and he was the Deputy UK Representative on the Standing Committee of Nurses of the European Community and the UK Board Member of the International Council of Nurses. He earned many awards, including a Fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing and Distinguished Merit Awards from the European Oncology Nursing Society and the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care.
Tiffany had a strong commitment to nurses from developing countries who, after training at the Royal Marsden, returned to do innovative work at home. He was in demand as a speaker and lecturer and his three-volume Oncology for Nurses and Health Care Professionals (1978) became the standard textbook on the subject. He used the royalties from it to fund a variety of nursing projects.
Few nurses have played such a leading role in shaping developments within a speciality or have achieved so many honours during their career. Bob Tiffany's legacy to cancer nursing is immense and his ideals will continue to influence future generations of nurses.
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