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A PAH project that aims to meet the demand for surgical treatment of skin cancer has been awarded $500,000 by the Department of Health’s Future Project Opportunity initiative.
The first of its kind in Australia, the specialist skin cancer clinic would decrease waiting times and provide more timely access to the surgical treatment of skin cancer by offering suitable patients the opportunity to be seen and treated in one visit to Hospital.
PAH Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr Michael Wagels said under the new model, the time for patients to access surgical treatment could be reduced from 188 days to only 38 days.
“We hope to have a serious impact on wait times, and deliver care in a more cost-effective manner,” he said.
“If the project is successful, it could be rolled out at other institutions.”
At present, referrals sent to the PAH Plastic Surgery Unit by patients’ GPs were received and processed by the Central Referral Hub. These referrals were then triaged and placed on a waitlist for an outpatient appointment, where a patient was assessed and where appropriate, plans for surgery were made.
Often, patients waited more than 150 days for their outpatient appointment and then waited a further 30 days to undergo surgical treatment.
While the referral and triage process would not change under the new model of care, patients who were suitable would be seen and treated in one visit. This meant suitable patients with skin cancer who required surgery could be assessed and treated within 30 days.
“The shorter wait time removes uncertainty and anxiety for patients. Also, patients would have less time away from work or home and less risk of their problem deteriorating while waiting,” Dr Wagels said.
Dr Wagels said the team was excited about winning the grant.
“We want to get rid of the backlog of patients waiting and set a course for the future, in which patients with skin cancer can access surgical care in a reasonable timeframe in a highly efficient model of care,” he said.
Ten patients would be seen in every clinic, which would run once a fortnight for the first year. The clinic is due to commence in February next year.