THE lack of adequate transport solutions designed to take rural patients to and from hospitals and the need to appoint a director of area cancer services, were just two of the issues raised at a public forum designed to help formulate a strategic plan for cancer and palliative care services in Orange.
Organised by the Greater Western Area Health Service (GWAHS), and facilitated by external consultant Colleen Wilson, the meeting encouraged the public to get together and talk about how the services could better be delivered in the future.
Unfortunately, only five people attended the get-together and the majority of those were employed in the palliative care and cancer related fields. The lack of attendance by the general public was attributed to the fact that the event was not widely publicised.
The group identified the need for resources to be put towards the prevention and early detection of cancer. Aboriginal patients were singled out as a sector of the community in need of urgent assistance as their rates of detection, prevention and susceptibility continues to be higher than the rest of the community.
Other areas in urgent need of attention were the employment of a dedicated full-time breast cancer nurse to liaise between surgeons and the patients and the lack of opportunities for patients in the region to participate in clinical trials.
GWAHS manager of area cancer and palliative care services Ruth Jones said that some of those areas of concern were already being addressed. However, she admitted that in the past GWAHS had found it difficult to fill a number of medical roles, particularly the job of director of area cancer services.
She revealed that GWAHS had recently securing funding for two breast cancer nurses and recruitment would commence shortly.
The meeting was designed to be only the first step in a strategic plan to better service the region and a paper identifying the key issues raised at the meeting will be presented to interested parties by the end of May, according to Ms Jones.
Concern was voiced that there was no formal plan in place that would ensure the recommendations discussed at the meeting would be addressed and a formal long-range strategy devised.
According to Ms Jones, GWAHS “recognises the need for the community to become involved in the planning for these vital services”.
“This forum is a way for the public to say what thy think is needed in the delivery of these services in the future.”
“Cancer and palliative care services will unfortunately be used by a very large number of community members and that’s why we’re encouraging people to come forward and have input into the strategic plan that is being developed.
“The plan will guide service development to 2018.”