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20 May 2020
Press Release

Regional Victorians with cancer to benefit from new partnerships

  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre
  • Bendigo Health
  • Albury Wodonga Health

Cancer patients in regional Victoria will have better access to cutting edge treatments through new partnerships between the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and local regional health services.

“The VCCC is focused on improving outcomes for patients with cancer no matter where they live in metropolitan, regional, or rural Victoria,” Executive Director of the VCCC, Professor Grant McArthur, said.

Under new Memorandums of Understanding, Bendigo Health and Albury Wodonga Health will be Affiliate Partners of the VCCC, which will enable:

  • Greater opportunities for collaboration across the Victorian cancer sector;
  • More local patients to participate in clinical trials, including early phase and personalised oncology trials;
  • Strengthened workforce capability through access to world-leading educational programs and fostering connections with peers; and
  • Better access for patients to leading specialists at Melbourne’s cancer hospitals, without having to leaving their local area.

The VCCC looks forward to partnering with more regional health services in the near future.

Cancer remains the greatest disease burden in Victoria with 96 new diagnoses each day. Victorians with cancer living in regional or rural areas have a lower 5-year survival rate compared with patients in metropolitan areas; 66 per cent compared to 70 per cent.

“Patients with cancer living in regional and rural Victoria can be disadvantaged in terms of access to care and clinical trials – we need to change that,” Professor McArthur said.

Clinical trials provide patients with the opportunity to access new treatments, therapies and technologies, and can extend and improve a patient’s quality of life. However, regional patients experience several barriers to accessing clinical trials – sometimes having to drive hundreds of kilometres weekly, taking leave without pay, or needing extensive support to assist with family and household needs when they have to travel.

Equitable access to evidence-led cancer care

Minister for Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes MLC, said these partnerships will help regional Victorian patients get better access to cancer services.

“Victorians deserve the best healthcare, no matter where they live. These partnerships mean not only will patients have peace of mind, but they’ll be able to stay close to home, rather than having to make the long trip to Melbourne,” Minister Symes said.

Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan MP, said this partnership will help increase equity of access to cancer services for those living in regional Victoria, “We’ve upgraded the Bendigo Hospital – for this exact reason – to be able to provide local people access to specialist care right at their doorstep.”

Chief Executive Officer of Bendigo Health, Peter Faulkner, said the new partnership will bring best treatment closer to home for cancer patients in the Bendigo region.

“This new partnership will help ensure local patients have equitable access to evidence-led cancer care and clinical trials.”

“Technology has made it so much easier to work together from various locations, and to access education and information faster. We will now be more connected into networks of experts developing cutting edge treatments, and we will have access to more clinical trials,” Mr Faulkner said.

“We are bringing best treatment closer to home for our patients.”

Foster connections, enhance training and build collaborations

Chief Executive Officer of Albury Wodonga Health, Michael Kalimnios, said the new partnership will benefit cancer patients living in Albury Wodonga, now and in the years ahead.

“We’re very excited about this new partnership, which will give local patients better access to cancer care and clinical trials.”

“This partnership will also help to foster connections, enhance training, and build collaborations for our cancer workforce, which means we will build capacity to deliver better care to our patients,” Mr Kalimnios said.