Better cancer detection and treatment for Wide Bay

A CUTTING-EDGE plan for cancer care services in the Wide Bay will accelerate cancer detection and treatment, and offer patients a clear pathway for the course of their illness.

The Cancer Care Strategic Plan 2015-2018 will deliver a rapid response to any high suspicion of cancer,  make use of 26 new cancer care chairs in two new facilities and employ more specialists, surgeons and nurses.

Strong public-private partnerships will expand services and support for those in cancer treatment.

WBHHS Chief Executive Adrian Pennington has hailed the WBHHS Cancer Care Strategic Plan 2015-208 as one of the most ambitious and forward-thinking in the nation.

"This is the most advanced cancer care strategic plan I've seen since coming to Australia," Mr Pennington said.

Under the plan, in cases where there is a high suspicion of cancer, patients will have their first specialist appointment within 14 days under a "red referral" system.

The plan also aspires to deliver services where patients with a confirmed cancer diagnosis will have their first cancer treatment or other management within 30 days of the decision to treat.

A firm focus is also placed on clear pathways for patients from first suspicion of cancer to the completion of treatment.

The six key goals of the WBHHS Cancer Care Strategic Plan 2015-2018 are:  to ensure earlier detection; ensure shorter wait times; ensure timely access to effective diagnosis; ensure delivery of consistent high-quality cancer care;   improve the patient experience along the cancer journey; invest in multi-level research.

WBHHS cancer care service operations director Ray Johnson said the service aspired to deliver the highest-quality cancer care, using innovative and efficient clinical and management practices.

"We want to be recognised as a centre of excellence in regional and rural cancer care," Mr Johnson said.  "We will achieve this by bringing together the best people, as teams, dedicated to delivering the highest-quality patient care, in excellent clinical environments."

Two new cancer care facilities costing a total of $35 million - one in Hervey Bay and one in Bundaberg - will bring cancer care operations under one roof and enable better communication between treatment partners, including video links to some of Australia's top specialists.

Four medical oncologists have been recruited by WBHHS, with the last of these expected to have taken up the role by February 2016.

Three urologists are expected to be appointed by the end of 2015, giving local access to further specialist services and offering earlier detection and treatment of prostate cancer.

An interventional gastroenterologist is already in place in Maryborough, allowing rapid endoscopy, which increases the potential for early detection of cancers.

A prostate cancer support nurse has also been appointed, adding to the existing team of cancer care coordinators, including specialist breast cancer support.

A partnership between WBHHS and Oceania Oncology in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay has further enhanced treatment options, with Oceania bringing new expertise to the area through the employment of extra radiation oncologists.

Mr Pennington said the WBHHS was committed to delivering the best quality health service, which would respond to the growing needs of the community.

"The Cancer Care Strategic Plan will provide continuous improvements in the capability of cancer care services in the Wide Bay and it is vital to ensuring the assessment and care of people affected by cancer is timely, well-integrated and of consistent high quality," Mr Pennington said.

Cancer Council Queensland has also endorsed the plan, with CCQ chief executive officer Professor Jeff Dunn offering "unreserved support" for the vision to be a centre of excellence in regional and rural cancer care.

"CCQ welcomes the opportunity to work with the WBHHS on all aspects of this plan," Prof Dunn said.

"The plan underpins an ongoing commitment to delivering the highest standard of patient care and to improve the quality of life to those affected by the disease."

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