Queensland tele-chemo service expands to Thursday Island

Queensland Health has expanded its tele-chemotherapy service to Thursday Island, where nurses can administer chemotherapy to appropriate patients under the video guidance of oncologists and nurses from Cairns Hospital.

The new service began on April 30 and will initially operate on a weekly basis from the new renal dialysis unit at the Community Wellness Centre on Thursday Island.

Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service chief executive Jill Newland said the tele-chemotherapy program already had been running successfully in Cooktown and Weipa since late last year.

“Those patients who are clinically suitable to use the service will be able to have their treatment on Thursday Island but still see and talk to their specialist through a video link,’’ Dr Newland said in a statement. “That will save them having to travel to Cairns on a regular basis for treatment.”

Dr Newland said three patient on Thursday Island who would normally have to travel to Cairns will be eligible initially, joining six patients in Cooktown and three in Weipa.

The model has been developed from the Townsville Cancer Centre's teleoncology service, pioneered by James Cook University clinical dean Sabe Sabesan and his team.

It aims to overcome workforce shortages, high turnover, low patient volumes and long travel distances by training “chemo-competent” nurses to administer the drugs while being supported by video link under the supervision of oncologists and chemotherapy nurses.

Last year, Townsville Hospital began supporting patients in Charters Towers, Bowen and Ingham as trial sites for the Queensland Remote Chemotherapy Supervision Model. Queensland Health then allocated $2.4 million from its Health Innovation Fund to roll out the model across the region.

It has been jointly developed with Queensland Health's Statewide Rural and Remote Clinical Network (SRRCN).

Posted in Australian eHealth

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