Government-proposed funding changes to Health Program Grants will compromise patient access to cancer treatment
Friday, 24 February 2017 08:43
24 February 2017
Cancer patients requiring brachytherapy, a special type of radiation therapy, stand to lose access to this cancer treatment if proposed changes from a government funding scheme are implemented.
Radiation oncologists attending the Australasian Brachytherapy Group (ABG) 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting have noted the changes to the Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants (ROHPG) Scheme will reduce patient access to cancer treatment, specifically for brachytherapy.
Brachytherapy is effective for many cancers including gynaecological cancers and prostate cancer. Brachytherapy—which is an internal form of radiation therapy given directly into the cancerous tissues—kills the cancer cells and avoids the need for a major operation. In gynaecological cancers, it is also used after a hysterectomy to stop the cancer coming back.
61 year old James Bradford, an engineer in the NSW rural fire service, says brachytherapy saved his life.
"There is no doubt that brachytherapy was the best treatment for me. The benefits of brachytherapy are nothing short of fantastic, to date I have had absolutely no side effects since I first had treatment in April 2010. I was so lucky that I heard about all the treatment options for prostate cancer," said Mr Bradford.
James was diagnosed with intermediate risk prostate cancer in September 2009 after his PSA blood test result started rising. After seeing a surgeon and a radiation oncologist, James decided that he did not want to have surgery and opted for brachytherapy.
"When you are faced with a life-threatening health issue, the best gift for a patient is to have all the alternatives outlined to them. They should have the opportunity to be fully informed about the potential options, before deciding for themselves which treatment they prefer," said Mr Bradford.
Nearly 7 years after treatment with brachytherapy, it looks like James is cured of the cancer. He loves his job and continues working long hours with the fire-fighting teams extinguishing blazes in rural NSW resulting from the recent heatwave. He has absolutely no side effects from the brachytherapy and has maintained normal urinary, bowel and sexual function.
The ROHPG scheme has been instrumental in funding the many essential capital components of radiation therapy service in both the public and private sectors, by providing patient access to advanced treatment techniques, improving cancer cure rates and reducing side effects.
A critical component of cancer care, radiation therapy could benefit one in two cancer patients as long as they have access to it. It is a crucial part of treatment in around 40% of cancer cures. Radiation oncologists are particularly concerned that some of the proposed changes to the scheme involve the cessation of funding for items such as specialised brachytherapy equipment.
"The effectiveness of brachytherapy in the treatment of prostate cancer has been highlighted in numerous scientific studies. It has been proven as a treatment option which has one of the lowest rates of long-term side effects and very high rates of cancer control. Access to modern brachytherapy equipment is vital in ensuring optimal care for prostate cancer patients," said A/Prof Jeremy Millar, Director of Radiation Oncology, Alfred Health.
"In the absence of ROHPG support, it is highly unlikely that radiation therapy facilities will be able to invest in essential brachytherapy equipment given the relatively high maintenance costs to facilities. For many women with cervix and endometrial cancers this will have a devastating impact on the ability to deliver safe, up to date brachytherapy treatment which is the standard of care for many of these cancers around the world. In other words, equipment will certainly deteriorate or malfunction and will almost certainly lead to suboptimal care and poor outcomes for patients," said A/Prof Michael Jackson, Chair ABG.
"The impact of the proposed changes will be felt heavily in both the public and private sectors, but there is a real risk that vital yet complex services required to treat smaller numbers of patients say, with gynaecological cancers which are currently available in the private sector will close and increase the burden on the public sector in the respective states."
"This in turn will have adverse consequences and compromise patient access, particularly in non-metropolitan areas – ultimately, threatening access to modern radiation therapy equipment and resulting in a profound impact on the delivery of cancer care in Australia overall, especially considering the increasing cancer rates expected in the ageing population," said A/Prof Dion Forstner, Dean Faculty of Radiation Oncology, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.
For more information about the Australasian Brachytherapy Group please visit www.abg.org.au
For more about radiation therapy and brachytherapy in particular go to http://www.targetingcancer.com.au/radiation-therapy/brachytherapy/brachytherapy-for-prostate-cancer/
For media enquiries please contact Neena Mairata on 02 9268 9771
Read the press release RANZCR ABG Brachytherapy Cuts Media Release
New Program to Support Rural and Remote Specialists in Australia
Wednesday, 22 February 2017 09:02
The Department of Health and Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges have launched a new initiative to provide rural and remote specialists in Australia with access to professional support and training opportunities. The program, titled Support for Rural Specialists in Australia (SRSA), supersedes the successful Rural Health Continuing Education (RHCE) Stream One program which distributed College Project Grants and Individual Specialist CPD Grants between 2010 and 2015.
SRSA is offering funding to rural and remote specialists in the form of Individual Specialist CPD grant. Applications for these grants are now open and close on 31 March 2017.
For the complete Funding Round 1 guidelines and application forms, go to www.ruralspecialist.org.au
InsideRadiology website wins Interactive Media Award
Monday, 20 February 2017 10:43
Monday 20 February 2017
The re-designed InsideRadiology website has won the Best in Class award in the Interactive Media Awards (IMA) in the medical category http://interactivemediaawards.com
Best in Class is the highest honour bestowed by the IMA. It is awarded to a medical-related digital platform displaying the very best in planning, execution and overall professionalism.
To win the award, sites are required to successfully pass the comprehensive judging process, achieving outstanding marks in the judging criteria – an achievement only a small number of sites in the IMA competition earn each year. Five areas are covered: design, content, feature functionality, usability, and standards compliance.
InsideRadiology provides consumers and health professionals with up-to-date information on diagnostic imaging and interventional radiology relevant to the Australian and New Zealand healthcare environments. The website was redesigned and relaunched at the RANZCR ASM in October 2016.
“I am delighted to see InsideRadiology receive the recognition it deserves as the go to website for consumers and health practitioners on imaging services. This is testament to the work of our multi-disciplinary editorial team,” said Prof John Slavotinek, Dean of the Faculty of Clinical Radiology, RANZCR.
With a fresh layout and look, the relaunched site contains all the information about medical imaging tests and procedures from the previous site but will also host additional College resources for health consumers and referring health professionals.
For more information go to http://www.insideradiology.com.au
FRO 11th Biennial Paediatric Radiation Oncology Course – Registration Now Open
Friday, 17 February 2017 12:01
The 11th biennial Paediatric Radiation Oncology Training Course will be held from 24 – 25 March at Sydney University and Westmead Hospital, Sydney. Designed for radiation oncology trainees, this specialised training course will cover a wide range of essential topics including medical ethics, fertility effects and preservation, LTFU.
For further information and to register for the event click here
Consultation on the RANZCR Research Strategy 2017-2020
Friday, 10 February 2017 15:14
The current RANZCR Strategy to 2017 articulates 11 College-wide Strategic Pillars. Pillar 7, Research, states that:
Clinical radiology and radiation oncology are recognised as professions characterised by a research ethic, and Australia, and New Zealand become more competitive internationally.
In line with the research Pillar, the College embarked on a process of developing a College wide research strategic plan that will outline research focus areas to guide the faculties of Clinical Radiology and Radiation Oncology to better target resources to ensure embedding a culture of research among the professions. In turn, this will reduce reliance on research outcomes generated elsewhere to guide local practice.
In the September 2016 edition of Inside News we reported that a research strategy forum had been held at the College office in Sydney. The membership and research committees from both faculties were well represented. Since then a draft research strategy document has been developed and has passed through two rounds of comments from the research forum participants.
The strategy document is at a stage where it can benefit from input of the wider membership.
We are keen to get your feedback on the strategy. Please send your comments by 27 March 2017 to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any questions please direct them to Professor Patricia Desmond- Chair Clinical Radiology Research Committee and Dr Keen-Hun Tai, Chair Radiation Oncology Research Committee.
C/o Chilandu Mukuka Manager, Research Co-ordination, Member Engagement and Services Unit Phone: +61 2 9268 9732 Fax: +61 2 9268 9799 Email: email@example.com
Vale Ms Sally Crossing AM (1946-2016)
Thursday, 02 February 2017 15:42
6 February 2017
Vale Ms Sally Crossing AM (1946-2016)
The Faculty of Radiation Oncology was saddened by the passing of Ms Sally Crossing AM on 28 December 2016, after a long and brave battle with cancer.
Sally was an inspiring and well respected advocate for people affected by cancer over many years following her own diagnosis with breast cancer in 1995. She founded the Breast Cancer Action Group New South Wales in 1997. This group compiled the Directory of Breast Cancer Treatment and Services NSW, which earned Sally the inaugural NSW Consumer Advocate Award.
In 2000, Sally led the establishment of the Cancer Voices movement in Australia, and became the chair of Cancer Voices NSW. Sally’s considerable advocacy efforts were recognised through her appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2005.
Sally was instrumental in many consumer advocacy activities, and contributed to numerous cancer organisations, including Cancer Council NSW, Consumers' Health Forum of Australia, the Board of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, and the Faculty of Radiation Oncology at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.
Through Cancer Voices, Sally facilitated the formation of the Australian Cancer Consumer Network in 2014, a group of 30 consumer related cancer organisations. In the same year she also accepted an Honorary Doctorate of Health Sciences from the University of Sydney for “extraordinary leadership and contributions to supporting those with cancer from diagnosis, though treatment, care support and survivorship, in both advocacy and research”.
Sally was the consumer member of the Faculty Council in 2015 and 2016. During this time, she demonstrated her wide knowledge of the radiation oncology sector, and her commitment to supporting the Faculty’s work – including advocating for the continuation of the Australian Clinical Dosimetry Service, the implementation of the Radiation Oncology Practice Standards, and appropriate patient access to affordable radiation therapy services. Despite her declining health, Sally attended the College’s Annual Scientific Meeting in 2016, and made very valuable contributions to the Faculty Forum and some of the scientific sessions.
The Faculty is indebted to Sally for her tireless efforts and dedication. She taught us so much and will be sadly missed. However, her legacy will live on and will continue to influence consumer engagement for many years to come.
A memorial service was held at the University of Sydney to celebrate Sally’s life, on Saturday 4 February 2017, which also marked International World Cancer Day.
For media enquiries please contact Neena Mairata on 02 9268 9771
2017 Grants, Awards and Prizes now open
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 09:06
Members are encouraged to nominate colleagues who they feel have made a valuable contribution to the College and/or the profession for a College Honour:
- Gold Medal: RANZCR’s highest accolade
- Roentgen Medal: For outstanding service to the College
- Clinical Radiology Educational Service Award and Denise Lonergan Educational Service Award: For valuable contributions to educational activities
- Life Membership: For significant contribution to the profession and/or the College
The College also has a number of grants, prizes and fellowships available for members to access:
2017 ASM Abstract Submissions Now Open
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 14:28
The 68th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists will be held 19 - 22 October 2017 at the new 6 star Crown Towers in Perth, Western Australia.
Abstracts submissions for this year’s meeting are now open, with members invited to submit an abstract for oral or poster presentation in a variety of themes in the disciplines of Clinical Radiology and Radiation Oncology.
Abstract submissions close Friday 7 April 2017 and can be submitted via the RANZCR 2017 ASM website www.ranzcr2017.com
If you have any questions regarding the abstract submissions for the meeting, please contact the Conferences and Events team at firstname.lastname@example.org
International Development Fund - 2017 applications now open
Wednesday, 11 January 2017 10:30
In 2013, the College Board approved an annual allocation of $30,000 to support international development work in radiology and radiation oncology.
All College members and groups are eligible to submit a request.
Applications close 31 March 2017
Department of Human Services reports increased processing times for Medicare provider number applications
Monday, 09 January 2017 12:08
The Department of Human Services has informed the College that they are currently experiencing an increase in demand for new Medicare provider numbers. Applications received between November 2016 and March 2017 will have a processing time of up to six weeks.
All new Fellows are encouraged to apply early for their provider numbers and ensure that they provide bank details and current contact details with their application.
Further information, including regular updates on processing times, can be found at www.humanservices.gov.au/health-professionals