Game-changer for regional cancer patients

Game-changer for regional cancer patients

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The state government is set to double the number of medium complexity cancer units outside of metropolitan Adelaide so that more regional communities can access cancer services closer to home.

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The state government is set to double the number of medium complexity cancer units outside of metropolitan Adelaide so that more regional communities can access cancer services closer to home.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the $6.9 million expansion would see sites in Port Lincoln, the Riverland and Victor Harbor offering a medium complexity suite of cancer services, which would double the total number of medium complexity units to six.

"Country cancer services are an integral part of our statewide cancer services and this upgrade will provide access to world-class treatment outside of metropolitan hospitals," he said.

"We will be expanding the services over four years to ensure patients are able to receive specialist care closer to home and allow staff to have the right tools so they can make the best decisions for their patients" 

Medium complexity cancer care involves using a combination of multiple chemotherapy drugs or combining biological therapies along with chemotherapy drugs to treat most solid cancers.

This means a higher level of cancer care can be offered locally to country cancer patients who need more intensive treatment.

"There will be more than eight additional positions created to support country chemotherapy units, including medical oncologists and cancer care coordinators," Mr Wade said. 

"We are also investing in our clinicians and services by trialing a GP oncologist role, in consultation with rural GPs, to better support the health and wellbeing of regional South Australians," he said. 

Country Health SA's executive director medical services Hendrika Meyer said the units at South Coast District Hospital, Riverland General Hospital and Port Lincoln Hospital will be transitioned from low to medium complexity units.

"There are currently 15 chemotherapy units in country hospitals across the state, with trained staff that can provide chemotherapy treatment and other services for patients," she said.

"Regional hospitals without chemotherapy units will also be able to provide much needed supportive care, including pump disconnection and changing dressings." 

Dr Meyer said expanding on these services would allow for more patients to be treated and cared for close to home and will allow us to continue to deliver innovative, world-class cancer care. 

At present, medium complexity units are at Whyalla, Mount Gambier and Port Pirie, while Victor Harbor also transitioned recently. Riverland and Port Lincoln will transition over the next four years.

Ceduna, Clare, Gawler, Kangaroo Island, Mount Barker, Murray Bridge, Naracoorte, Port Augusta, and Wallaroo will remain low complexity units.

For more information, visit www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/countrycancerservices.

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