Minister schooled on cancer unit

Health Minister Tony Ryall visited Tauranga Hospital this morning to meet the new Cancer Unit coordinators appointed to improve the quality and speed of cancer treatment in the region.

Carolyn Gent and Lorraine Hammersley were brought in as part of the Government’s new initiative to improve cancer treatment nationwide.

New cancer coordinator clinical nurse lung specialist Lorraine Hammersley and cancer coordinator clinical nurse specialist Carolyn Gent show Health Minister Tony Ryall how they will be dealing with cancer patients. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

Tony says the idea of the initiative is to decrease the number of days a cancer patient waits before receiving treatment.

“The idea is that from the day of referral, it will take a maximum of 62 days until the patient receives treatment. The Bay of Plenty is one of the first regions to roll out the new initiative.”

Carolyn and Lorraine start work at Bay of Plenty District Health Board on Monday and are among 40 dedicated cancer nurses expected to be work in public hospitals throughout the country by the end of May, says Tony.

“These specialist nurses will act as a single point of contact so patients and their families no longer have to deal with multiple people from different parts of the health service.”

Carolyn and Lorraine will work across both Tauranga and Whakatane Hospitals.

One nurse will focus on lung cancer patients, while the other will cover patients diagnosed with uncommon cancers.

“The Government is investing $4million a year to ensure every DHB has at least one full time dedicated cancer nurse, as part of its commitment to provide better and faster cancer services,” says Tony.

“Nursing has warmly welcomed this new role, which will vastly improve the treatment experience for patients by reducing delays, stress and duplication.”

During his visit, Tony spoke with some of the patients who were in Tauranga Hospital’s Cancer Unit receiving chemotherapy while listening to Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys are Back in Town’.

The new coordinators will help with a range of factors, from patient care and treatments to helping delivery new and improved services.

Both Carolyn and Lorraine have worked as cancer nurse specialists in the UK before coming to New Zealand.

Carolyn has been in New Zealand for seven years, while Lorraine has lived here for 20 years.

“We are excited to be starting these roles. We see it as a positive move,” they say.

Their focus will now be on setting up and running the initiative.

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