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This section contains media releases released a little while ago. Please note that due to the long time when some of these were released images have been removed and some links might no longer work.

December 14, 2012

Major improvements in referral processes at West Coast DHB

Recent statements that referrals for bowel cancer from Buller GPs are getting lost at Grey Base Hospital, and that some GP locums are unaware of the West Coast DHB's fast-track processes for treating bowel cancer are no longer valid, says Michael Frampton, Programme Director for the West Coast DHB.

"These statements, which came from a study by the Southern Cancer Network regarding South Island Regional Bowel Cancer patient mapping, need to be understood from the perspective that the report is based on information that is up to four years old," Frampton says.

Information gathered for the report came from only five West Coast patients and the study reviewed nine sets of patient notes for patients who started their treatment pathway between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2009.

"We now have systems in place to ensure that cancer referrals are attended to in a timely manner. All GPs, including locums, are made aware of referral processes. Significant activity has occurred since the report was undertaken and is ongoing to improve all aspects of the cancer journey for colorectal cancer patients on the Coast.

"Currently, any cancer referral a GP makes in Buller is inputted into the MedTech system (an electronic practice management system) and then sent to the Central Booking Unit (CBU) in Greymouth. On receipt of the referral an acknowledgement letter is sent by the CBU and this is audited at Buller to ensure the referral has been received.

"In the middle of next year, stage one of an Electronic Referral Management System (ERMS) will be implemented across the West Coast DHB. Once up and running all referrals from GPs will be sent electronically through MedTech directly to the CBU. This will continue to streamline and improve the referral process and meets the recommendations outlined in the Southern Cancer Network report about improving efficiency of referrals from GPs.

"The West Coast DHB received a national award for its urgent colonoscopy programme- Alternative Pathways for New Patients - which allows for direct referral of patients for an urgent colonoscopy. This programme has cut waiting times for those with suspected colorectal cancer that need a colonoscopy by almost three months. This programme is constantly being reviewed and improved. Programmes such as the Alternative Pathways for New Patients are important initiatives as the West Coast DHB develops sustainable healthcare services into the future.

"Key clinicians are participating in a South Island wide fast-track colorectal project which aims to significantly improve the timeliness of clinical investigation and management for all colorectal cancer patients. In addition, funding has also been released by the Ministry of Health for a dedicated cancer nurse co-ordinator to supplement our existing oncology service.

"We know that our oncology team, which includes Coast-based clinical nurse specialists, local surgeons and Christchurch-based oncologists, already provides an excellent service which encompasses cancer care co-ordination from confirmation of cancer. The journey for a patient with cancer can be complex, with care often provided by a number of different clinicians. The addition of a dedicated cancer nurse co-ordinator will further support patients navigate the health system, and we will advertise for this role in the New Year.

"I am pleased to report to the community that the majority of the recommendations from the South Island Regional Bowel Cancer patient mapping report have been implemented at the West Coast DHB over the past 18 months since the report was undertaken.  We are reviewing the other recommendations and, as with other health services on the West Coast, we are continually looking at ways to improve the way we deliver our services," says Michael Frampton.

-Ends-

For more information

Bryan Jamieson
Community Liaison Officer
West Coast DHB
PO Box 387
Greymouth 7840
Phone (DDI): (03) 769-7665
Mobile: 027 245-9595

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