Aim: To investigate cancer clinicians’ opinions regarding the strategies Victoria needs to implement to facilitate the delivery of optimal cancer care.
Method: Victorian clinicians treating cancer patients in the previous two years identified through membership lists of the Victorian Clinical Oncology Group, Medical Oncology Group Australia and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists and Victorian Cancer Registry notifications. Clinicians were approached via email and invited to complete an online survey. The survey assessed views regarding the most important strategies to improve cancer care, and the barriers and enablers to developing/implementing the strategies identified. Clinicians indicated the stage of care when barriers were commonly encountered during their clinical practice.
Results: 196 clinicians completed the survey. Most participants were surgeons (33%) and medical oncologists (20%) and 11% were radiation oncologists. The strategies considered most important to improve patient care were: “IT systems that are compatible across organisations” (57%), “resources to manage volume and direct clinical care demands’ (39%) and “access to multidisciplinary team care” (35%). Most important strategies did not differ by discipline. The main barriers to implementing the different strategies were lack of funding and resources (42%) and staffing shortages (29%). 77% of clinicians encountered a significant barrier to care in the week before the survey with 26% reporting a barrier for a few patients and 23% for many patients. Barriers were most commonly encountered in continuity of care/care co-ordination (48%), planning treatment/management (42%), and preparing to start chemotherapy/ radiotherapy (34%).
Conclusion: Clinicians have a clear picture of strategies to improve the care they provide to cancer patients. Future planning efforts should continue to consult clinicians and other medical staff to develop strategies that optimise workloads and improve service delivery to patients. The findings will be used to inform Cancer Council Victoria’s advocacy efforts in improving cancer care.