Oncology centre expands to Stawell

STAWELL Regional Health chief executive Rohan Fitzgerald has welcomed the expansion of the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre's oncology services to Stawell.

Medical oncologist Dr Stephen Brown will visit Stawell Regional Health each Tuesday, beginning tomorrow.

"It will be the first opportunity for people to access services directly from the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, which will be a significant improvement in services available in this region," Mr Fitzgerald said.

Dr Brown will be available for consultations.

He will also oversee chemotherapy treatments.

Patients attending the clinic will be bulk billed, with no out-of-pocket expenses.

"It is going to halve the travelling time for many people who would otherwise have to travel to Ballarat," Mr Fitzgerald said.

He said the weekly visits would enable Stawell Regional Health to provide additional oncology services not only to the town's residents, but to patients throughout the region.

"It's a new model of care, and a really important step forward to being more patient-centred in the way we deliver our care," he said.

He anticipated Dr Brown would see up to 15 people each visit through consultations, and provide up to 15 more with consultations at Stawell's oncology centre.

Mr Fitzgerald said the weekly visits would bring the number of oncologists visiting Stawell to three.

The visits would also support the $3.9-million rehabilitation centre and oncology redevelopment at Stawell Regional Health.

Ballarat Health Services head of medical oncology, Dr Kate Hamilton, said she hoped the majority of the Grampians region's cancer patients would be able to receive their treatment and follow-up appointments closer to their support networks.

"While it might still be necessary for some patients to travel to the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre for their treatment, it's hoped that the majority will be able to receive their treatment and follow-up appointments in Stawell," she said.

Ballarat Health Services chief executive Andrew Rowe said the visiting cancer services would also enable greater collaboration between Stawell Regional Health and the Integrated Cancer Centre.

He said Ballarat Health Services planned to further expand visiting cancer services in the Grampians region with clinics in other towns.

"Ballarat Health Services has more than 250 regional patients who would potentially benefit from seeing an oncologist closer to home," he said.

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