New tumour treatment standards let patients check whether
their care matches the timeline set for New Zealand public
hospitals, Southern Cancer Network director Dr Shaun Costello
The 10 standards cover common cancer types, including bowel,
breast, and melanoma.
They include minimum wait times for procedures, and the order
in which each step should occur.
''What this means is a patient can look at these standards
and know that this is the level of care they should receive
in whichever public hospital they go to.''
They would be used to audit district health boards to
determine which met minimum standards.
''We just don't know at the moment, because there's never
been anything to benchmark it against. Nobody has ever sat
down in New Zealand and said: 'this is the bottom line'.''
The standards improved patient safety because ''one of the
things it does is makes sure that everything happens in the
Cancer patients often had to see a host of different doctors
and specialties, a potentially complicated and confusing
process. Dr Costello, clinical leader of radiation oncology
at Dunedin Hospital, was one of a large group of clinicians
who developed the standards.
''I find it enormously rewarding that we managed to get such
a large number of clinicians to come together to focus on a
''I'm looking forward to benchmarking against it so that we
can see where we are, and where we need to improve.''
Health Minister Tony Ryall said the standards were based on
the successful lung cancer standards developed in 2011.
''District health boards will compare the services they
currently provide with those set out in the standards, to
identify where they can make improvements and provide cancer
patients with better care,'' Mr Ryall said.
The standards can be viewed at: www.health.govt.nz