WA to get ‘Peter Mac’ style cancer centre

Professor Peter Leedman

Lobbying by cancer specialists in Western Australia has paid off with the announcement of funding for a multidisciplinary cancer centre to be set up to match those in other states.

The federal government has pledged to provide half of the $750 million needed to create a WA Comprehensive Cancer Centre as proposed by the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. However the state government has yet to commit the remaining $375 million.

The facility will be located at the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre Campus (QEII) in Perth and will be modelled on centres such as the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

It will comprise 140 overnight and inpatient beds, 110 chemotherapy, medical and same day beds and chairs, up to 20 intensive care beds and 40 Linear Clinical Research trial beds/chairs and a CAR T-cell therapy suite.

Perkins Director Professor Peter Leedman says the centre will be a dedicated, multidisciplinary facility that will help patients to access the latest cancer therapies and services by bringing clinical and research activities together.

The centre will also provide holistic supportive treatment therapies, an integrated and dedicated intensive care unit as well as new hospital beds solely for cancer patients all in one location, he added.

“For cancer patients to have a truly ‘one-stop-shop’ for all their treatment including intensive care, specialist appointments, imaging and scanning, operating theatres, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, complementary therapy, palliative care and rehabilitation – will be transformative,” he said.

The centre would also enable WA to be part of an integrated national network of comprehensive cancer centres around Australia being developed by the Australian Government’s Cancer Australia agency, he added.

“Until now, Western Australia was the only mainland State in Australia that did not have a truly comprehensive cancer centre in operation or in development … On average, about 50 Western Australians a year travel to Victoria for cancer services and treatment they cannot get in WA.

“At a time when people are fighting for their life and family means everything, they should not have this added level of stress and disruption. This comprehensive cancer centre here in Perth will set that right and buy back precious time for families, while providing a higher standard of coordinated, cutting edge care for all cancer patients.”

Professor Leedman said cancer care in Western Australia was excellent but fragmented and disconnected.

“This centre will provide a better and more coordinated cancer journey for patients and their families compared to the disjointed and sometimes confusing one they have now. [It] will radically change the cancer journey for patients with cutting edge precision medicine driving clinical care. Most importantly, it will lead to better outcomes with improved patient survival and quality of life while providing access to the newest drugs and treatments,” he said.

Professor Leedman said the Perkins was hoping construction could start soon and the facility would be operational in 2026.

“As with any project of this scale there is still a lot of work to do to get the centre built and running to service the community, but this is a huge and significant move that means so much for the State,” he said.

However according to a report in WA Today, WA premier Mark McGowan said the state government wanted to see more detailed plans for the cancer centre before responding to the 50/50 funding announcement by Scott Morrison.

“It will take a while because you want to get it right, you want to have it in the right location, you want to have the right staffing model you want to have the right funding model for it to ensure that it operates effectively and achieves maximum outcomes for people with cancer in WA,” he said.

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