Dean, Faculty of Radiation Oncology, RANZCR
Advocacy for sustainable, appropriate funding for radiation oncology has been a priority work area for the Faculty this year.
The review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is underway. The Faculty has nominated representatives for a number of relevant MBS Review Taskforce clinical committees, and submitted a response to the MBS consultation paper. The submission is available on the College website.
In parallel with the commencement of the MBS Review, an audit of the Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants Scheme was undertaken by the Australian National Audit Office and changes to the Medicare Safety Net were introduced.
The Faculty has actively participated in these activities, providing input from the profession’s perspective. However, at the time of writing, the outcomes of these initiatives were not yet known – causing the Faculty much concern over the potential impact of any significant changes on affordable and timely access to radiation therapy in Australia.
Raising the profile and presence of radiation oncology remains a major priority for the Faculty, given radiation therapy in Australia is still very much underutilised.
The Targeting Cancer campaign website was revamped and relaunched in late October 2015. The website now contains more tumour site-specific content and videos, and information targeted at GPs. We hope the website will become the most trusted source of information about radiation therapy for cancer patients and their families, as well as for GPs and other health professionals.
GPs play a crucial role at every stage in the management of a patient diagnosed with cancer. Through Targeting Cancer GP oncology education evenings, GPs have the opportunity to learn about the role of radiation therapy for their patients. Hundreds of GPs have attended these events held in several departments across Australia, and have reported significant improvements in their understanding of radiation therapy.
A number of GP-focused articles, covering advances in radiation therapy and indications for localised prostate cancer, brain metastases and skin cancers have been published in Australian Doctor and Australian Family Physician, and are available for download from the Targeting Cancer website.
The Faculty is committed to quality, continuous improvement and best practice, and we published a number of key position papers in 2015, including:
The position papers are available from the College website.
The aim of the Faculty’s regular Horizon Scan is to inform cancer professionals, health professionals, health administrators, consumers and interested individuals about the techniques and technologies used for safe delivery of high quality radiation therapy. The Horizon Scan was updated in 2015 with the latest data and evidence, the format has been simplified and the two versions for Australia and New Zealand were merged into one. The final document is available from the College website, with the next update planned for 2017.
The Faculty’s annual Industry Roundtable was held on 9 October, with over 20 attendees representing industry, consumer organisations and radiation oncology professions. This annual event provides an opportunity for industry stakeholders to meet and discuss current issues in radiation oncology.
The Faculty also convenes a regular Innovation Summit with key stakeholders, with the most recent Summit held on 6 November at Old Parliament House in Canberra. Representatives from federal and state governments, cancer peak bodies, consumer organisations and medical professions attended to discuss key issues around the profile of radiation oncology, technologies and techniques, research and innovation in our sector.
We will continue to actively engage with governments and stakeholders in the broader cancer arena to advocate for radiation oncology as an essential pillar of cancer control.