A project to increase the cancer care facilities at public hospitals in Charleville, Roma and St George will be left in the capable hands of Charleville Nursing Unit Manager, Nicky McKellar.
The expansion of services will take place over the coming months and aims to alleviate travel burdens on regional cancer patients seeking treatments such as chemotherapy.
The three-year cancer care strategy was approved by the South West Hospital and Health Service, according to Chief Executive, Glynis Schultz.
“Patients with less complex needs will be able to receive services right here in the South West, closer to their friends and families and not have to travel as regularly to major centres outside the region for their care,” she says.
Of the 262 South West patients that received public cancer treatment in 2014, 115 of those were directed to larger public hospitals outside the region for more complex procedures and a further 445 received treatment through the private health sector.
Ms McKellar says that the expansion in cancer care services may see fewer people reliant on private health services.
“As we improve and expand cancer care services here in the South West, it may well be that some of these private episodes of care may be able to be delivered within our region also.’’
The expansions will be implemented with the support and advice from specialist care teams at larger tertiary hospitals.
“We are currently in discussions with Toowoomba Hospital and the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane to develop partnerships between us and their specialist cancer and palliative care units,’’ says Ms Schultz.
With a strong interest in cancer and palliative care, Ms McKellar is keen to take up her new role and see the project get underway, saying that patients can expect to receive chemotherapy services at the Roma Hospital as soon as January next year.
The services will become available at Charleville and St George hospitals later in 2016.
Whilst more complex treatments will still need to visit larger hospitals in Toowoomba or Brisbane for specialised care, the increase in facilities will take the travel burdens off a large number of patients that require low-risk cancer treatments in regional areas.
The developments will also provide an opportunity for cancer and palliative care training among existing professionals in the region.