Hospital oncology services
to continue – thanks
to Cowra Cancer Action Group
ONCOLOGY services at Cowra District Hospital will continue uninterrupted – thanks to the “strong lobbying and . . . generous support” of the Cowra Cancer Action Group, says Member for Burrinjuck, Katrina Hodgkinson.
“I have received many letters from Cowra residents concerned that oncology patients sometimes have to travel long distances for treatment when the oncology nurse at Cowra Health Service is away undergoing training, sick or is on leave,” Ms Hodgkinson says in a statement.
“An interim solution to the problem of an additional oncology nurse for Cowra Hospital has been put in place and a long-term solution is currently underway.
“Following strong representations to the government, I am very pleased to announce that the nurse manager at Cowra, who is also an accredited chemotherapy nurse, will replace the permanent nurse while she is on leave.
“This means that the delivery of oncology services at Cowra will not be disrupted,” says Ms Hodgkinson.
The MP says the New South Wales Government is also addressing succession planning and staff training to ensure a long-term strategy is put in place.
“Two registered nurses in Cowra have expressed genuine interest in gaining oncology qualifications,” says Ms Hodgkinson.
“The Cowra Cancer Action Group, very generously, will fund one (registered nurse) who will commence training next month.
“The Western NSW Local Health District is assisting the second (registered nurse) to apply for the College of Nursing Graduate Certificate in Cancer Nursing in 2013.
“I commend the Cowra Cancer Action Group for their strong lobbying and their generous support to improve services available to oncology patients.
“The Cowra Cancer Action Group has done a fantastic job and they should be rightly proud of this great outcome for local health services and for the future delivery of oncology services,” Ms Hodgkinson says.
Editor’s note: This story, sourced from Ms Hodgkinson’s media release, raises two important questions – with all due respect to the Cowra Cancer Action Group, why should it need to fund the training of a nurse? Nurse training is a State Government responsibility, or is this yet another case of cost shifting to community bodies?
CCN has received the following correspondence for Ms Hodgkinson’s office, and, in the interest of fairness, it is published in full below:
“Dear Editor, With respect to your comment about nurse training, this is not the responsibility of the State Government. As with any career choice, plumber, pilot, doctor etc there is a cost to the individual in obtaining their qualifications, this has been the case for decades at least.
“The State Government oversees the training standards for Enrolled Nurses and the federal Government the standard for Registered Nurses.
“The cost of additional qualifications like oncology are also borne by the individual, as with any other career progression training. However nursing scholarships are frequently offered by government, health organisations and groups such as the Cowra Cancer Action Group to help with skill shortfalls across the State or in specific regions or areas.”
Editor: It maybe so that nurses pay for their own training initially, however, it is the responsibility of an employer to offer further training to their employees to maintain and improve their skill standards.
It is also the responsibility of NSW Health (ie the NSW Government) to ensure that there is a full complement of suitably trained staff to provide critically needed services to the community.
Perhaps it would have been possible to provide one of the NSW Government nursing scholarships to cover this staff shortfall rather than relying on the generosity of a local charity group.