The geographic distribution of patients receiving treatment

Phillip Greenup1

1 Queensland Health, Level 2, 15 Butterfield Street, Herston, Queensland, 4006,


Individuals living in regional and remote Queensland have been reported to suffer from preventable cancers at rates higher than those living in major cities.  Lifestyle factors such as: increased rates of tobacco consumption; poorer access to fruit and vegetables; and a greater proportion of occupations that require sun exposure are often offered as explanations for this imbalance.  Less often considered is whether the amount of cancer treatment provided to patients in regional and remote Queensland is reflective of the incidence rate in those regions, compared to the amount of cancer treatment provided to patients in major cities.

The Queensland Remote Chemotherapy Supervision guide (QReCS), developed by the Central Integrated Regional Cancer Service (CIRCS) has been adopted nationally as the standard in remote administration of chemotherapy under telehealth supervision.  As well as demonstrating reductions in service delivery cost, the QReCS model facilitates  increased capacity of regional and remote health facilities to provide more suitable oncology treatment closer to the patients home..

Prior to investing funds in the expansion of the QReCS model, a data gathering exercise was undertaken to determine the current volume of non-admitted patient oncology services reported by public (Queensland Health) and private providers as well as the locations in which the recipients of this treatment live.  The results will be used to determine whether increasing the capacity of public providers of health services in regional and remote Queensland to provide more suitable oncology services had a positive effect on the rate in which this treatment was sought.

Among the findings of the exercise is that private providers of oncology services are largely concentrated in major cities, suggesting that Queensland Health may shoulder the majority of responsibility for rural and remote populations.  Also revealed is that patients in regional and remote Queensland receive less treatment per person than patients in major cities despite experiencing a higher rate of incidence.  These results may underscore the importance of Queensland Health, to continue to invest in innovative solutions such as the QReCS model to ensure suitable treatment is available particularly in regional and remote Queensland.

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