The existing Victorian Cancer Action Plan 2008–11 (VCAP) expired at the end of 2012. Cancer Council Victoria recognised that the next state cancer action plan is of great interest to those working within the cancer services framework. It's thus timely for our Clinical Network to create an Agenda for Cancer Control.
Our Clinical Network is the peak multi-specialty representative oncology forum for Victoria, consisting of over 650 health professionals. It aims to promote a range of cooperative measures to optimise cancer management and care in Victoria.
This living document, auspiced by Cancer Council Victoria, aims to represent the views of Victorian cancer clinicians and health professionals. It details the priorities and recommended strategies identified by the Clinical Network to improve outcomes for cancer patients. The Agenda for Cancer Control will inform Cancer Council Victoria's strategic plans and future election priorities.
In late 2011, consultations were conducted with the Executive, and Committee Chairs and Deputy Chairs, to identify the key issues for improved cancer care in Victoria. The priority areas for advocacy identified were:
Agenda for Cancer Control This is the combined report including all of the above proposals.
Statements outlining the perceived problems in and recommended strategies for each of these priority areas were circulated to the Clinical Network membership in early 2012 for further consideration. All priorities have been strongly endorsed.
The solutions presented as part of the Agenda for Cancer Control will be tangible and quantifiable. Further, we'll work closely with the Victorian Department of Health and the Integrated Cancer Services to progress these priority issues.
Cancer Care Coordinators
The Clinical Network engaged Prof Patsy Yates and Dr Danette Langbecker (QUT) to undertake a systematic review of the literature relating to the role of cancer care coordinators. This review informed a second phases of research relating to Cancer Care Coordinators in Victoria.
We have established a Cancer Care Coordinator Steering Committee to progress CCV'S advocacy agenda around improving patient access to care coordinators. In late 2015, a research team from Deakin University was commissioned by the Clinical Network to undertake a mapping project.The purpose of this project is to ascertain the current landscape of Cancer Care Coordinators across Victoria, including identifying their geographical locations and current scope of practice.
Improving Access to Patient Transport and Accommodation
The Clinical Network have been working closely with the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer on progressing this issue. A series of roundtables were conducted with both cancer and non-cancer key stakeholders to identify opportunities to improve the VPTAS for patients requiring to travel long distances to access health treatment. Out of this, a VPTAS Alliance has been established. There are over 30 agencies participating in the alliance, all with expertise and experience in supporting patients who need to travel for treatment.
In the Victorian State Budget 2014-15 there was an announcement of an extra $13.8 million for the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme and a review of the VPTAS was undertaken. Pleasingly, the Victorian Government have committed to reviewing the VPTAS biannually. The next review will begin early in 2016 with improved guidelines to take effect in 2017. The Victorian Government have indicated they will consult with the Alliance on the next review.
The Alliance developed and launched a VTPAS poster for GP and supportive care unit waiting rooms with the aim of increasing patient awareness about the scheme. The launch was successful in generating many media stories and increased exposure of the VPTAS generally. The poster has been distributed widely among the VPTAS Alliance networks.
Improving Access to the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program
With 60 year olds now eligible to participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, it is important that eligible adults are supported in taking up bowel cancer screening. With this expansion of the NBCSP, the Gastrointestinal Cancer Committee (GICC) has identified that colonoscopy wait times for people with a positive FOBT and symptomatic patients will increase. In 2015, the State Government has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at improving wait list management of colonoscopies in health services. For more detail on these initiatives get in touch with the Clinical Network.
In light of these initiatives, the survey of Gastrointestinal Directors, undertaken by the GICC in 2014, will be repeated early next year to assess if there has been changes to colonoscopy wait times amongst Victorian services
Improving access to radiotherapy
In 2015 Cancer Council Victoria via the Clinical Network made submissions to the Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants Scheme, strongly advocating that facility operators establish arrangements that provides for public patient access to ensure that all patients have access to a facility closest to their home.
As we see progress in redressing the above priorities, other key areas will become part of Agenda for Cancer Control. These priorities will be identified through regular consultation with the Clinical Network membership as well as consider the strategic importance and resources available to progress these issues. Future priorities identified to date include: primary prevention of cancer, cancer workforce planning and development, and increasing capacity for clinical trials research.