Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 March 2010) . . Page.. 952 ..
having a risk management plan in place if this situation happens again. I think that is another important thing which should be pursued so that when people need these services, particularly in a very time-critical manner, there is that plan in place if this sort of situation occurs again.
I have been advised that the amount of financial assistance that ACT Health provides to patients who have to travel interstate is minimal. I would appreciate an explanation from the minister on how much this is and whether this can be improved upon. To face five or so weeks of accommodation costs in Sydney must be very hard on patients, especially if they are on low incomes and have families to consider. I note that the minister has provided information on this in her speech. However, I still think it is worthwhile, at the very least, investigating this issue further. This is to particularly consider the financial difficulties that people suffer when they have a debilitative illness as this can have a great impact on a number of areas of their life.
In line with what Mr Hanson requested in his original motion, it would be appreciated if the minister could advise as to when ACT Health expects the shortage in radiotherapy staff to be resolved and when almost all patients suffering from cancer in the ACT will again be able to be treated locally. It may even be helpful if ACT Health was able to liaise with groups such as Bosom Buddies and the prostate cancer support group and advise if there are any patients of their category who are travelling interstate so that the support groups can contact their New South Wales counterparts and get some assistance for those Canberra patients staying in Sydney. I move the amendment circulated in my name to Mr Hanson’s motion:
Omit all words after “notes that”, substitute:
“(a) at least 27 patients suffering from cancer in Canberra were forced to travel interstate to receive radiotherapy treatment as a result of six radiotherapists resigning from The Canberra Hospital Radiation Oncology Unit;
(b) ACT Health employed poor communication in advising patients they would have to travel interstate to access radiotherapy services;
(c) there was a lack of communications between the Chemotherapy and Radiation Oncology units about patient treatment plans;
(d) stress can exacerbate the side effects felt by a cancer patient receiving radiotherapy treatment; and
(e) the financial burden placed on patients who are required to reside interstate while receiving treatment; and
(2) calls on the Minister for Health to:
(a) investigate if staff at The Canberra Hospital who assist in the frontline provision of cancer services require customer service or reflective practice training;
(b) reinstitute formal consultation meetings between managerial and consumer representatives;