THE Border Regional Cancer Centre was yesterday allocated two care co-ordinators, crucial for patient treatment.
The federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said Labor would spend $15 million to provide 34 cancer care co-ordinators at the 26 regional cancer centres.
One of the Border nurses will be based at the cancer centre, and the other at the Albury-Wodonga Patient and Carer Accommodation Centre.
The centre committee member, oncologist Dr Craig Underhill, said the nurses were critical to coordinating patient treatment by linking them to the treatment services they required.
“They identify patients who might need a social worker or a dietician and can provide information,” Dr Underhill said.
“Patients might need multiple providers and co-ordinators make sure they don’t get lost in the system.”
Dr Underhill said the next task was to build the centre’s services.
“This is an example of how we need to staff the centres and ensure the investment in the bricks and mortar,” he said.
“The federal government has invested a substantial amount of money to construct about 20 regional cancer projects, and now we’re looking for bi-partisan support to build services within those buildings.”
Federal member for Farrer Sussan Ley said the Coalition was “fully supportive” of cancer care nurse co-ordinators.
“I expect we’ll be making provision for this when our health policy is released in coming days,” Ms Ley said.
Labor candidate for Indi Robyn Walsh said the announcement came on top of “considerable” investment in the region’s hospitals.
“It all means more doctors, nurses and beds and more people cared for, less waiting time in emergency departments and people getting their surgery done sooner,” Ms Walsh said.
Dr Underhill said the centre still needed funding for several positions, including oncologists and radiologists.
“But it’s really the allied health services that are critical,” he said.
These services, such as dieticians, social workers and psychologists, are difficult to get in regional centres, he said.
“And they’re an important part of the cancer journey. It’s not just about delivering the chemotherapy, radiation or oncology. It’s providing the other support.”