The Nova Scotia Cancer Care Program’s (NSCCP) leadership, together with 500 clinical and administrative staff and approximately 70 specialty physicians, plan and deliver cancer programs and services across the province to patients in need.
In 2017-18 the program:
- • established and recruited members for three over-arching teams to guide planning and respond to provincial and local needs
- • realized early successes in providing cancer services closer to where patients live
- • worked with other programs to address system challenges and patient needs
While establishing provincial structures and approaches has required considerable attention, efforts are ongoing to provide services closer to where patients live. Today, many gynecology and hematology patients living in Cape Breton and Southwestern Nova Scotia can receive treatment close to home. For patients who have symptoms of possible lung cancer, a pilot program has found that having necessary tests done by a local respirologist actually improves the time from diagnosis to referral to a lung specialist for treatment.
Addressing system challenges and responding to patient needs is crucial. For example, colonoscopy wait times are long for Halifax-based participants of the Colon Cancer Prevention Program who have an abnormal screening test. Through collaboration with the provincial Endoscopy Team:
- • patients now have the option to travel outside Halifax where the wait times are lower
- • some colonoscopies in Halifax are being scheduled on Saturdays, and
- • a co-ordinator has been hired to explore and implement other options to lower wait times
Patients with cancer are benefitting from the provincial Cancer Care Program’s enhanced ability to work as one program to plan provincially and act locally.