Disparities in clinical outcomes between metro and regional cancer patients are well established in the literature. The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) established Regional Oncology Leads with the aim of addressing these disparities through clinical care and access to clinical trials for cancer patients living in rural, regional or remote areas of Victoria.
The VCCC appointed two Regional Oncology Leads in 2017 to develop improved partnerships between Victorian Metropolitan and Regional Cancer Centres. These Leads are based at Border Medical Oncology, Albury-Wodonga and South West Health Care, Warrnambool and are supported by a dedicated VCCC Program Manager. The Leads were appointed to key strategic and advisory committees, providing a platform to advocate for the regional patients and regional workforce. The Leads are the key drivers of the VCCC Teletrials Program which provides a tangible resource to establish engagement and endorses the Leads as drivers of change for the VCCC.
We undertook a Delphi-style survey to form consensus on the current opportunities and challenges facing regional oncology to help inform current and future strategies. The innovative leadership model provided a mechanism to build connections across Victoria and enabled Regional Clinicians to access to the many programs established by the VCCC.
The Lead roles are now well established and integrated into the VCCC organisational structure. They have dedicated operational and administrative support; mentoring from metropolitan based VCCC leaders and lead Tangible projects from which to first drive engagement within the VCCC. The Delphi Survey provides a consensus opinion on which opportunities should be prioritised and are currently feasible to improve cancer outcomes across regional Victoria.
Strong leadership in regional oncology and partnerships with metropolitan centres may improve cancer outcomes for patients living in regional Victoria. The VCCC provides an innovative model for providing leadership and driving change.