News in brief: Comprehensive cancer centre for Queensland; Medical cannabis can’t be recommended in palliative care; Healthcare staff bullied and stressed over PPE provision

Thursday, 16 Jun 2022

Comprehensive cancer centre for Queensland

Queensland will have its own comprehensive cancer centre before the end of the decade, with the state government promising to build a facility on par with those in Victoria and NSW.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says concept design has already been completed on the $750 million Queensland Cancer Centre, to be built within the Herston Health Precinct at Brisbane’s Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

The facility will have 150 beds, 26 consulting rooms, 37 chemotherapy chairs and four operating theatres, plus pathology services and a pharmacy.

It will also include a full range of research, education and training facilities which will support continued and strengthened partnerships with the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

Construction is set to begin in 2024 and take about four years, Ms Palaszczuk said in a statement.

It follows a commitment by the Coalition ahead of last month’s federal election to provide partial funding for a national network of comprehensive facilities, based on Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney.

With Labor coming to power federally, details of the plan are currently up in the air.

Medical cannabis can’t be recommended in palliative care

The quality of evidence on cannabis in palliative care is low and remains too weak to provide any recommendations on its use in clinical practice, New Zealand researchers say.

Their verdict follows a review of 52 studies on the use of medical cannabis in end-of-life care which found the quality of evidence was ‘very low’ or ‘low’ for all studies.

Scientists from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand said the studies showed some positive effects for medical cannabis products in pain, nausea, chemosensory perception and fatigue in patients with cancer.

Positive treatment effects (statistical significance with P<0.05) were also seen for some cannabis products in patients with dementia and AIDS.

However, the findings had to be interpreted with caution due to the wide range of cannabis products used and the heterogeneity of the study outcomes, they wrote in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

There were also large number of adverse events reported with medical cannabis treatment and placebo groups across all the included studies, they noted.

Healthcare staff bullied and stressed over PPE provision

One in five frontline healthcare workers received no training on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 when the pandemic was at its height in 2021, and only half received formal training in the workplace, according to a survey of Victorian healthcare staff.

Responses from 2258 healthcare workers (80% women, 49% doctors and 40% nurses) revealed a wide range of problems with PPE provision in 2021, including a lack of PPE training (20%), lack of fit testing, insufficient PPE (25%) and reuse or extended use of PPE (47%).

More than three quarters (77%) of staff reported workplace bullying by management for being ‘troublemakers’ when they raised issues over PPE, and y more than one fifth (22%) reported moderate to severe anxiety related to the lack of training and provision of PPE.

Similarly, about half of staff (48%) reported confusion and concern  about inconsistent and frequently changing PPE guidelines that failed to recognise the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2
“The lack of bargaining power for many respondents limited their agency to resolve matters further exacerbating physical, psychological and financial impacts,” said the authors of the study published in PLOS One.

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