Boost LRH prostate nurse hours: Northe

Heidi Kraak

Member for Morwell Russell Northe is calling for additional funding to allow the prostate cancer specialist nurse who works out of Latrobe Regional Hospital to provide services for an extra day each week.

Mr Northe said the service is funded by a complex range of sources and only allows the specialist to provide services at 0.4 full time equivalent (FTE) despite a growing case load.

“She is seeing something like 450 patients last year. That seems to be growing,” Mr Northe said.

“When you’ve got a caseload of that many people it is difficult for her to manage. Another day a week would make a massive difference in terms of addressing the need.

“What we are calling for is not only the state government, but all candidates and political parties to support this extra day a week … it would make a massive difference for [the nurse] to see more and more men who are dealing with prostate cancer across this community.”

Mr Northe said the additional funding was “not a big ask in the scheme of things” and that the “cause should be a health priority for the state”.

Biggest Ever Blokes BBQ chair Ian Netherote said the group had done studies which revealed Gippsland had high incidences of prostate cancer mortality compared to other parts of Victoria, which he said could be linked to late detection.

“We’re also seeing … the increase in the number of people who are, in fact, wanting to visit the prostate specialist nurse,” he said.

“When you’ve got a caseload of that many people, it is difficult for [the specialist nurse] to manage.

“Another day a week would make a massive difference in terms of addressing the need.”

Mr Nethercote said the specialist nurse was not only important in terms of providing medical advice, but also to provide support to patients and their families.

“[The nurse does] not only cover the physical aspects, but the mental and the anguish that goes with being diagnosed with any type of cancer, can be at times, far greater than the disease itself,” he said.

“That needs to be managed carefully with not only the individual but the families that can help move things forward.”

Latrobe Valley Prostate Support Group convenor Allan Cunningham said additional funding for the specialist nurse would allow the nurse to perform additional awareness work.

“The awareness campaign of the [Biggest Ever] Blokes BBQ … revolves around the fact that if you get them early, the better the chances of it being successful,” he said.

“That is one of the things that [the nurse] has been doing … speaking at Rotary and other events, but she is getting that busy.

“If she got another day, it would give her a chance to expand that role.”