Radiation oncology

Regions to get 10 new radiation cancer treatment centres: but who will staff them?


A/Prof Sid Baxi

Radiation oncologists have welcomed the establishment of 10 regional radiation treatment centres for cancer patients but have  questioned whether there will be an adequate rural healthcare workforce to operate them.

The federal government has invited public and private service providers to apply for funding grants of $45.5 million, to develop radiation treatment centres in rural and regional areas of NSW, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

The aim is to allow cancer patients in regional areas to be treated locally rather than travel to major centres to obtain their radiation therapy.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) say the new services will help address the current gaps in cancer services and improve access to quality cancer care for regional and rural cancer patients.

But for the centres to be effective the government will have to address the problem of workforce shortages of radiation oncologists in regional and rural areas,  they argue.

“It is essential to adequately staff the new centres so that patients experience short waiting times and receive safe and quality care,” said radiation oncologist Associate Professor Sid Baxi, Chair of RANZCR’s Targeting Cancer Management Committee.

“Strategies to support the recruitment and retention of these specialists will need to be in place,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for state governments across Australia to address current workforce issues and implement sustainable solutions to ensure these centres can be appropriately staffed now and into the future.”

The locations of the new radiation cancer treatment centres are:

  • South Coast (Bega /Eurobodalla), NSW.
  • Grafton and Clarence Valley, NSW.
  • Far North Coast, NSW.
  • Mid North Coast (Nambucca, Kempsey), NSW.
  • Taree, NSW.
  • Armidale, NSW.
  • Western NSW (Griffith).
  • Gladstone, Qld.
  • East Gippsland, Vic.
  • Mt Gambier and Limestone Coast, SA.

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