Monash oncologist leads shared care model to benefit Gippsland cancer patients

Cancer survivors in Gippsland will have access to better post-hospital care as part of a partnership with GPs and oncologists.

A new model of care has been developed in Gippsland to assist patients through their cancer journey.  The Gippsland Cancer Survivorship Project will ensure patients receive continued support from their GP, their cancer nurse and oncology specialist by using a shared-care model approach.  This method is well established nationwide and allows for health professionals to identify and monitor the longstanding effects of cancer and treatment modalities.

The cancer journey for patients is often accompanied with ongoing physical and/or psychological health problems that can develop into other related health issues requiring follow-up and intervention. This newly developed shared-care model is a way cancer patients and their health professionals can better manage the complexities around patient needs.

Dr Mahesh Iddawela

Dr Mahesh Iddawela

Dr Mahesh Iddawela, Medical Oncologist and post-doctoral research fellow at Monash University, is the leading the Gippsland Cancer Survivorship Project and believes this shared-care model will help cancer patients lead productive lives after diagnosis and treatment and assist in receiving the best health care available in the Gippsland region. The health research and evaluation components of the project will be led by Dr Eli Ristevski from the Monash University.

“GPs have regular contact and have built strong relationships with their patients so they are well-placed to recognise any changes in physical or emotional health and may also be involved in the management of other chronic conditions which a cancer survivor may have,” Dr Iddawela said.

“Under this new model, GPs will have a direct communication and a referral pathway to an oncology specialist should specific issues arise, Dr Iddawela said ”

The Gippsland Cancer Survivorship Project has received $300,000 in funding and is a collaboration between Gippsland Regional Integrated Cancer Services, La Trobe Regional Hospital, Monash University, Gippsland Primary Health Network, Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, Gippsland Southern Health Service and the Victorian Government.

“Gippsland has more than 1600 new incidents of cancer a year and our focus has been on meeting this demand for treatment,” Dr Iddawela said.

“Now there is a pathway of care beyond treatment which we hope will contribute to quality of life for cancer survivors,” Dr Iddawela said.