The Gippsland community endures a terrible impacts from Prostate Cancer. The mortality rates for men with this disease are higher in Gippsland in comparison to the rest of Victoria: our men are diagnosed at more advanced stages of this dreadful disease and they wait significantly longer timeframes for life-saving treatment. One fifth are diagnosed with the disease ‘by accident’, and patients most likely have to travel for their treating services. Combined with our lower socio-economic indices, these factors can mean dire consequences to their recovery or even survival.
We have a dedicated group of local people working tirelessly to provide support and much-needed funding for this cause. They operate the Prostate Support Group (PSG) in Morwell and Latrobe’s Biggest Ever Blokes BBQ – a wonderfully successful fundraising event, bringing awareness and community support to those suffering from the disease. This group currently provide funding towards a 0.4 Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse (PCSN), which is part of the Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia’s (PCFA) Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse Program (ref). This program is funded from various sources – community groups such as the PSG, the Commonwealth Government or Hospitals themselves. The implementation of this role at Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH) has meant that men with prostate cancer and their families have increased access to supportive services and have been able to receive valuable and personalised information in relation to the disease, the treatments and possible side effects.
In the last financial year alone, this Nurse has seen 468 patients – and this looks set to increase in the current year. This means there is a delay in assisting patients and places a lot of pressure on this person who currently takes home work and reports home to complete. More hours are required to operate this valuable service and support not only our local men suffering the disease, but the volunteers with their fundraising efforts. Other Victorian regions have a full time PCSN, fully funded by the Commonwealth Government, or the Hospitals – so why doesn’t Gippsland? With our terrible outcomes due to this disease, it makes sense that we should be the priority.
MY POLICY INITIATIVE
I propose that the State Government – via LRH – should fund an additional day for a PCSN, to ensure that this service continues to take care of the increasing patient workload, and work as part of a local team to improve our abysmal Prostate Cancer outcomes. This would allow the role to build more awareness for patients and practitioners, providing a preventative approach to tackle this enormous problem.
I stand with not only the local sufferers of Prostate Cancer and their families, the volunteers donating their precious time raising funds for this must-needed cause, but the Health Workers who want to deliver quality services to their patients and community. I will continue to place pressure on the Government to fully fund this vital service, to support those suffering the dreadful effects of Prostate Cancer in their lives and make meaningful moves towards improving our outcomes.