Cancer service pledge

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
Cancer specialists Dr Andrew Dean and Dr Martin Buck have extended their service at St John of God.
Camera IconCancer specialists Dr Andrew Dean and Dr Martin Buck have extended their service at St John of God. Credit: Geoff Vivian

The WA Country Health Service was quick to reassure people that cancer specialists would continue to service patients at Geraldton Hospital on a “like for like” basis.

A spokesperson also disagreed with outgoing specialist Dr Andrew Dean’s statement that cancer patients had to wait no longer than two weeks to see him or his partner Dr Martin Buck.

“Referrals received to the Midwest Cancer Centre are assessed against the Optimal Care Pathway and are seen by an oncologists in line with this,” she said.

“Waiting times vary between one to 10 weeks, according to cancer type, and following chemotherapy treatment, patients are followed up every six to 12 months.”

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Dr Dean said he and Dr Buck had always seen new patients within one to two weeks.

“Some patients were seen on the same day,” he said.

“The ones who could wait were those who had had their treatment in Perth and were referred to us for ongoing monitoring.”

Dr Dean said they first considered discontinuing their Geraldton Hospital clinic in November 2017 when their contract expired and they were told it would not be renewed.

“We did our last clinic and the clinic staff asked us what was happening,” he said. “We said we had no idea because our contract has finished and we are making new arrangements to work elsewhere. With 48 hours to go we had a phone call asking us to stay on because WA Country Health Service were not renewing any contracts right now.”

Dr Dean said they agreed to sign another contract when no replacement been recruited by April, but decided to discontinue the clinic after an email from the medical director in November.

“What it stated was that the current clinic plan of two of us visiting fortnightly was clearly not working and we therefore had to move to weekly clinics,” Dr Dean said.

“There was no evidence provided as to why the current system wasn’t working, and we were required to conduct 20 per cent of our consultations by Telehealth.”

WACHS’ spokesperson said she was unable to discuss confidential employee information.

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