Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Push for better rural cancer services

Cancer Council Victoria is campaigning for improvements to the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme ahead of this year's Victorian election.

JENNA BISHOP July 21, 2014 3:30am

Cancer survivor Carol Nelson is joining Cancer Council Victoria’s call for increased access to cancer services for regional and rural Victorians.

The Cancer Council Victoria is campaigning for improved access to cancer services for regional and rural Victorians as one of its priority issues for the upcoming state election.

It says the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme, which is used by many Goulburn Valley cancer sufferers, is falling short compared to other states.

Cancer Council Victoria is calling for the Victorian Government to offer increased petrol and accommodation rebates and simplify the distance criteria.

Kialla’s Carol Nelson said she would welcome increases to the transport assistance scheme after using the assistance frequently in her cancer battle.

Mrs Nelson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 at 45 years old, with doctors finding three aggressive tumours.

The cancer had also spread to her lymph nodes, leaving her with lymphoedema, a condition which can cause a build up of fluid.

Mrs Nelson said Cancer Council Victoria could also lobby for more funding in the Goulburn Valley for lymphoedema, including funding for a full-time lymphoedema nurse.

‘‘We need more money for the breast cancer nurses because they are fantastic and totally go out of their way to help us,’’ she said.

Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Dale Fraser welcomed any funding or initiatives which would improve local access to oncology services.

‘‘Importantly, we need enhanced technology, additional services such as radiotherapy, and appropriately skilled staff across a range of specialised areas to deliver local oncology services,’’ he said.

‘‘GV Health has a strong relationship with tertiary providers of care and we continue to explore opportunities for localised oncology services.’’

Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper said with the number of people diagnosed with cancer predicted to increase, it was critical cancer control continued to be a priority for the Victorian Government.

‘‘This year, another 30000 Victorians will be diagnosed with cancer and 11000 will die from the disease,’’ Mr Harper said.

In May, the Victorian Government announced an additional $13.8million across four years for the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme as part of the state budget.

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