Cancer care assistant scheme is extended to two more hospitals

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 April, 2011, 12:00am

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A pilot programme that gives cancer patients in public hospitals access to a personal assistant to assist them through the consultation process is being extended.

In the past, patients had to attend consultations in different departments and wait for weeks in between.

During this time, they would have no one to turn to for medical advice.

Under the pilot scheme currently available in five hospitals, patients are attended by a case manager who is also a senior nurse.

The managers help the patients to arrange consultations and explain details of their treatment to them.

The service is available to colon and breast cancer patients in Caritas Medical Centre, Kwong Wah, Yan Chai, Princess of Margaret and Tuen Mun hospitals.

It is now being expanded to the Queen Elizabeth and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern hospitals by the end of this month.

The HK$2 million programme was introduced by the Hospital Authority last year and has served 600 patients in Kwong Wah Hospital and Caritas Medical Centre alone.

There are about 2,500 new cases of breast cancer each year and the Hospital Authority cares for more than half of them.

'I am like a nanny who takes care of movie stars,' said Chun Oi-kwan, an advanced practice nurse in Kwong Wah Hospital's surgery department.

She said she would try to arrange multiple consultations in one day, so patients did not need to return to the hospital so often. 'In the past, patients did not know which doctors they needed to see and what they should expect from each doctor.

'Now they know exactly what their next step is.'

A 41-year-old woman diagnosed with breast cancer in November last year said the personal assistant scheme was a big help.

She was attended by Chun and said it greatly eased her psychological burden, as she could call her at any time. She said: 'You only see doctors after a long wait. Even when you have questions, you have forgotten all about it by the time you see them.'

Chun is one of the only two senior nurses who serve as case managers in the Kowloon West group of hospitals.

Authority Kowloon West Cluster Department of Oncology Chief of Service Dr Yau Chun-chung said case managers were common overseas.

'We do not have many resources, but we hope patients know that they are not alone in fighting cancer. There is someone who can readily provide help,' he said.