Birds of a Feather secretary Stephanie Stevens

March 12, 2020

The secretary of a local cancer support group has criticised Queensland Health for axing the position of “Nurse Navigator Cancer Care” at Kingaroy Hospital.

Stephanie Stevens, secretary of the Birds of a Feather cancer support group, said South Burnett residents have a very high number of cancer diagnoses, with bowel cancer 30 per cent above the national average.

“In our region, the need to have local access to a dedicated cancer care nurse is extremely high. So why was it recently axed?” Stephanie wrote in her newsletter, “Kumbia Party Line”.

“If your diagnosis is breast cancer, you are fortunate in that the South Burnett has a dedicated McGrath Breast Care nurse.

“But what about all the other types of cancer in the South Burnett? The patient numbers are vast and the labyrinth of health care is endless and daunting.

“This very important position was cast aside very quietly. There are now hundreds of local cancer patients left in the lurch with no support and, unfortunately, more are being diagnosed weekly.”

Stephanie said the role of a cancer specific nurse was to support cancer patients, facilitate access to health and allied services and make sure health information was understood.

“They guide you throughout your cancer journey, offering practical assistance, helping to allay fears and answering many pressing questions,” she said.

A spokesperson for Darling Downs Health said the service model for Nurse Navigators was reviewed in 2019 “to better meet the chronic and complex health needs of the Darling Downs Health community”.

“This review resulted in the creation of generalist nurse navigation roles, with the South Burnett specialist Nurse Navigator Cancer Care position becoming a Generalist Nurse Navigator position,” the spokesperson said.

“Generalist Nurse Navigators work across multiple specialities and service settings, with the scope of the role focused on the patient and their journey, and not limited by specific complex care needs.

“A Generalist Nurse Navigator can assist patients who have a diagnosis of cancer to navigate the health system in collaboration with the specialist cancer care team, and assist with connection to all other health providers involved in each patient’s care.

“By changing the South Burnett Nurse Navigator Cancer Care position to a Generalist Nurse Navigator position, we have opened the South Burnett nurse navigator service up to benefit all local patients with complex health care needs, including cancer patients.”

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