News in brief: Tributes paid to Canberra oncologist; Neuroendocrine cancer action plan; Medicare claims watchdog to get new powers

Thursday, 11 Nov 2021

Tributes paid to Canberra oncologist

Colleagues and former patients have paid tribute to Canberra oncologist Dr David Leong, who passed away recently.

Almost 50 tributes have been made on the Canberra Post memorial page for Dr Leong, describing him as a compassionate and trusted clinician who went the extra mile for his patients.

Surgeon Dr Peter Vickers  said he had known Dr Leong as a colleague and friend for 20 years and described him as devoted, caring, friendly and knowledgeable.

“I had incredible feedback from patients that he was always available, empathic and listened to their worries. His clinical acumen and focus on his specialty made him a very special human being; the ability to give more and more to others at his own expense,” he wrote.

Former assistant director of nursing Vikki Freemantle described him as a true gentleman, with a kind soul.

“The Canberra oncology world has suffered a great loss. He was committed to the very best of care for his patients. Many of us were privileged to have worked with David. He will be sadly missed.”

Many of the tributes from patients described how Dr Leong supported them during their cancer journey.

“He was an incredible oncologist,” one wrote. “The first day we met on December 2020, he put his hand on my shoulder and told me that this wouldn’t be my last Christmas. He put me in a very good head space for my cancer battle. He was kind and very approachable and he will be missed greatly.”

A memorial service for Dr Leong was held on 11 November.

Neuroendocrine cancer action plan

NeuroEndocrine Cancer Australia NeuroEndocrine Cancer Australia has launched a five-year Action Plan which identifies critical areas of need across awareness, advocacy, education, support and research.

The first National Action Plan for Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) 2022 – 2027 calls for more specialist NET telehealth support nurses in Australia and better access to a coordinated NET medical team.

“Increasing clinical awareness of NETs and their treatment is critical to ensuring that patients with NETs receive an earlier diagnosis,” the action plan said.
Professor Rodney Hicks from the University of Melbourne said about 60% of people with neuroendocrine cancer have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis

“Early diagnosis will not only help patients, but it will also alleviate the burden on the Australian healthcare system, one which is already under considerable strain,” he said.

The action plan also calls for funding for the PLANET registry, more Centres of Excellence and targeted funding for NET research.

Medicare claims watchdog to get new powers on repayments

The powers of the Professional Services Review, to investigate and punish inappropriate Medicare claims will be strengthened under an amendment that will extend compliance powers to corporate entities.

A bill going through parliament seeks to extend the reach of the PSR scheme from individual medical practitioners, to hold responsible anyone who employs or contracts practitioners including corporate entities who may offer Medicare services.

The amendment will also strengthen the debt recovery powers of the PSR to seek repayment of Medicare claims from corporate entities and boost fines for withholding information or refusing to cooperate with investigators.

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