"Diagnosis and treatment for bowel cancer."

About: Cohuna District Hospital Epworth Hawthorn Kerang Hospital

(as the patient),

My initial diagnosis was at the Cohuna Hospital and, as always the help and care there was first class.

The follow-up with surgeon Mr Malcolm and all of the staff at Epworth, Hawthorn, was exceptional and very supportive. The nurses were very caring and friendly.

Follow-up Oncology consultations and chemo has mostly been at Kerang Hospital. The care of Dr Rob and Justin has again been very caring and reassuring. The chemo services, led by Cindy, supported by Hayley and Karen, have all been positive and friendly, which is important when going through treatment such as this, given that there are regular 3-4 hourly session on chemo. At all times, I have been treated with respect and courtesy, and have found these people as high class operators.

My only gripe is the fact that my oncology referral expired after 3 months and required a visit to the Cohuna Clinic, where that simple document could only be supplied appointment charge, in order that oncology services could continue to be bulk billed.

Responses

Response from Chloe Keogh, Director of Clinical Services, Kerang District Health We are preparing to make a change

picture of Chloe Keogh

Thank you lynxgh88 for taking the time to describe your cancer journey. I will be sure to pass on your comments to the oncology team at Kerang, and also the Bendigo outreach clinic.

You make an interesting point about referrals expiring and this needing yet another appointment, and fee charged, which is a requirement of the healthcare system. I will look into this and see if there is anything that could be done to either make chronic conditions have a longer referral time, or a way that this process could be simplified, and will post back here within a fortnight what I have found.

Additionally, we are doing a project looking at cancer support groups locally, and I believe that this is not a happening thing in the rural area that we live in. When I read your story, I think about your journey from diagnosis, through to treatment, but what happens afterwards? I would love your advice or comments on this, and hope to have an information session in November on how we could support such a group. Would you be interested in this sort of cancer survivorship support?

Again, thank you for your story, I will be back in touch on this portal.

Kind Regards

Chloe

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Response from Chloe Keogh, Director of Clinical Services, Kerang District Health We have made a change

picture of Chloe Keogh

Dear lynxgh88,

I am afraid that I have not got any solutions at this stage for the 3 months life of the specialist referral from your GP. We discussed your observations and comment at the Oncology forum this week. It is the current requirement for seeing a specialist, and it is supportive of keeping your GP involved and aware of your treatment being provided by the specialists. Our oncology nurses are going to keep aware of when their patients need their referral's renewed and try to remind the patients so that it is less of a rush at the last minute.

Maybe an opportunity will come up in the future when I could suggest that for longer-term treatments a referral could be longer than 3 months.

Again, apologies that I could not find a more supportive solution to the specialist referral situation at this point in time.

Kind Regards

Chloe

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Update posted by lynxgh88 (the patient)

Thanks for your response. A large part of the problem is that many country clinics are short staffed with doctors, so appointment opportunities do not always fit what rule makers in Canberra or Melbourne may think are realistic. It is also frustrating that I have had to then see a doctor who effectively doesn't know me or my situation, tell them what they need to type on the referral, 4 minutes, no bulk billing, simply so that my excellent care can continue. This is the only negative in the otherwise great help that I have received at all stages of treatment. Happy to talk at some stage when I'm in at Kerang. Cindy did say that you had spoken to her. Thanks again.

Response from Chloe Keogh, Director of Clinical Services, Kerang District Health

picture of Chloe Keogh

Fantastic, I will look forward to a chance to chat in person! And, Yes, Cindy and I had the same discussion about wait times to GP clinics, repeating your story (again), and being out of pocket simply for your specialist treatment to continue.

I will be looking for a chance to advocate that this system gets reviewed by decision makers into the future

Kind Regards

Chloe

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Response from Chloe Keogh, Director of Clinical Services, Kerang District Health We are preparing to make a change

picture of Chloe Keogh

Dear lynxgh88,

This still doesn't address the issue of referrals to specialists, but it is a change in the cancer journey that we are working on.

I just wanted to share with you some work we are doing to see if the community are interested in a cancer support group:

Are you a cancer survivor or do you support someone with cancer and live in the Gannawarra or Buloke region? Murray PHN is establishing a cancer support group to provide a safe space for people affected by cancer. The group will enable people to develop local connections, providing emotional and other supports including the sharing of resources, experiences and ideas. We understand that everyone has different needs and hope to hear from you about yours. Are you interested in:

One-on-one Group support in the form of guest speaker events, exercise activity, etc. Online access to connect with people in the same situation. To register your interest, contact Gemma Bilardi at Murray PHN by calling 03 4408 5610 or emailing gbilardi@murrayphn.org.au

Contact details

For more details, Gemma Bilardi, Cancer Survivorship Project Coordinator, e: gbilardi@murrayphn.org.au or t: 03 4408 5610.

Kind Regards

Chloe

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Updates, changes and questions related to this story

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