Cancer Care Co-ordinator in the Southern Highlands

The Southern Highlands has a current and pressing need for the appointment of a fully qualified nurse working as a Cancer Care Co-ordinator. Such a nurse, in that position, could achieve so much in streamlining patient access to information and services and, at the same time, would play a vital role in supporting current medical, nursing and allied health providers.

By means of a thorough needs analysis, our Committee has previously identified the desirability of such a service within the Southern Highlands, but, so far, none has been provided.

During 2010 we wrote to Dr Geoff Delaney, the Director of Cancer Services at the Cancer Therapy Centre, Liverpool.

Our reasons were that we could identify immediate health benefits that would flow to cancer patients if, for example, a trained professional were available to liaise between patients and medical personnel and to look after the scheduling for treatment which a serious illness entails. It is clear that relief from the stress of arranging these details - in what is often a lengthy programme of patient care - would significantly improve the quality of life of cancer sufferers and their carers. It is also expected that additional benefits will be gained by health professionals dealing with the patients.

Apparently, funds have already been made available by the NSW Cancer Institute to the Sydney South West Area Health Service (SSWAHS) for this purpose. We sought, therefore, to have sufficient funds allocated so that a Cancer Care Co-ordinator would be available to assist cancer patients in the Southern Highlands.

In this matter, our request also had the backing of the Cancer Council NSW and the Southern Highlands Division of General Practice.

In his reply, Professor Delaney referred to the allocation of the funding received by SSWAHS from the Cancer Institute but said that it had been done in such a way that “staff have been employed with specific job descriptions and responsibilities that do not extend to the Southern Highlands”. The funding had been allocated some time ago and was unable to be reversed. He made the provision of a Cancer Care Co-ordinator for our district contingent on gaining additional funding.

We will revisit this issue to seek our fair share of the resources made available by the NSW Cancer Institute.