AN ONCOLOGY outreach program in Maryborough will work to ease pressure on Ballarat and Bendigo health services and improve patient care in the region.
Ballarat Health Services will start consultations with cancer patients at Maryborough Hospital from Tuesday with outpatient treatment options set to be available from early July.
BHS senior oncologist Wasek Faisel will lead the program, which will work similar to BHS satellite programs in Stawell, Horsham and Hamilton.
About 230 cancer patients travel to Ballarat from Maryborough and surrounding towns in the district. Similar patient numbers are estimated to venture to Bendigo for treatment.
BHS medical oncology clinical director Stephen Brown said reduced travel for patients would have a significant impact in opening up new treatment options for residents.
We know patients make decisions on the own health based on travel.Dr Stephen Brown, BHS
"A lot of farmers in the regions, for example, have to take a day off and are unable to do this quite regularly, so they might drop off. It can be the same issue with those who need someone to drive them to appointments," Dr Brown said.
"Newer treatments, like immunotherapy, are every two to three weeks and ongoing for a couple of years.
"This is easier closer to home. This program will help extend world-class care to all patients in the region and help bolster the local Maryborough hospital."
Maryborough District Health Service does not yet deliver chemotherapy, which Dr Brown said would take until mid-year to set up.
MDHC clinical services director Nickola Allan said the partnership was great for the hospital workforce in skill development but, importantly, would help remove remoteness in healthcare for residents in smaller towns.
The health service has been developing a nurse-led cancer resource system the past 18 months. Ms Allan said the oncology program launch would help the nurse to improve links between medical and allied health professionals.
MDHC has well-being programs in place, including a wig library, make-up and exercise.
"What evidence shows is exercise has huge benefits in managing fatigue. Our patients will be more aware and able to access our Fighting Fit program," Ms Allan said. "They will be able to better access physio, social work and dietitians. This all has a big impact for families."
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