Introduce higher standards of care for everyone with cancer
Despite a world-class health system, cancer control outcomes in NSW vary depending on where you live. Optimal Care Pathways provide guidance to health professionals on the best possible care for people with specific cancer types. They can help to reduce inequities in treatment as well as improve a range of outcomes for people living with cancer.
Optimal Care Pathways are endorsed by all Australian governments as the standard of cancer care – yet NSW has no dedicated plan for embedding them across the health system and is falling behind other states and territories.Cancer Council NSW calls on the next NSW Government to formally adopt the Optimal Care Pathways so everyone can access and know they are receiving the highest standards of care.
Cancer Council NSW recommendations
Develop a plan in the first year of Government to fully embed and enable all Local Health Districts to implement the Optimal Care Pathways for all cancer types by 2028.
Set benchmarks for optimal cancer care and publicly report on cancer outcomes and how the NSW health system performs against benchmarks.
Commit to ensure that everyone being treated for cancer has their care reviewed by a multidisciplinary team where appropriate.
Commit to ensure all cancer patients receive specialist review, tests, and start treatment within the recommended timeframes.
Work with Primary Health Networks to ensure Optimal Care Pathways are embedded in Health Pathways and medical practice software.
Why are we asking the Government to make this change?
By world-standards, NSW has excellent cancer outcomes – but not for everyone. Whilst there can be a number of reasons for this variation, measuring these differences and understanding why they occur is crucial to identify improvements in cancer outcomes across the state.
We know that access to high quality cancer care can depend on where you live. For example, people with cancer in regional areas experience poorer access to cancer care contributing to regional-metropolitan disparities in cancer outcomes. Our Regional Communities Cancer survey found that wait times are one of the most significant barriers to accessing cancer care in regional areas, second only to distance. One of our recent studies showed less than half of people with lung cancer across Australia start treatment within the recommended timeframe after specialist review. There is currently no public reporting of wait times to access cancer specialist appointments, tests, and treatments in NSW, meaning people with cancer have no idea whether they are waiting too long to get care.
Cancer mortality and other measures vary from one Local Health District or hospital to another.
What can be achieved if the Government makes this change?
Embedding the Optimal Care Pathways across NSW has the potential to improve cancer outcomes by ensuring everyone receives best practice treatment and care.
Research shows people who get care that meets the standards in the Australian Optimal Care Pathways have a higher chance of surviving cancer than those that do not. By embedding Optimal Care Pathways across the state and introducing public reporting on cancer treatment measures such as wait times, the NSW Government can identify where improvements in the delivery of care are needed. It also ensures that all people diagnosed with cancer know they are receiving the best care, irrespective of where they live or where they receive cancer treatment.