10 June 2024

A groundbreaking report has found highly trained Specialist Nurses reduce emergency department presentations and hospitalisations among men with prostate cancer by 60 per cent, prompting calls from experts to expand specialist nursing services for men living with the disease.

The independent report, by the University of Queensland’s Centre for the Business and Economics of Health, also found that prostate cancer nurses contributed to a 58 per cent reduction in clinical consultation times and a 64 per cent reduction in missed medical appointments.

“These findings underscore the tremendous social benefit of specialist nursing services, resulting in an overall social benefit of $1.65 for every dollar invested,” said PCFA CEO Anne Savage.

“This analysis confirms that specialist nursing services for men with prostate cancer can save our health system nearly $20 million every year, boosting health related quality of life for thousands of men living with the disease by a similar amount.

“Notably, the report found access to specialist nursing programs reduced presentations to hospital emergency departments, especially in the first year after diagnosis, which is positive not only for the patient in reducing their risk of exposure to infection but also on hospital wait times and unnecessary costs on the healthcare system. 

“We know as many as three in five hospital emergency department visits by cancer patients are preventable. The findings of this report reaffirm the invaluable role played by specialist nursing services in improving community health and curbing demand on Australia’s heavily strained health system.

“With more than 250,000 Australian men alive today after a prostate cancer diagnosis, and more than 25,000 men newly diagnosed each year, the expansion of specialist nursing services is vital to the health of our country.”

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, accounting for more hospitalisations than any other type of cancer. PCFA runs a country-wide hospital-based specialist nursing program as well as a national telenursing service, supporting thousands of men each year.

“Our service provides comprehensive and personalised nursing care that can only be provided by specialists who have been trained in the intricacies of managing prostate cancer,” said PCFA Director of Nursing Sally Sara.

“Our specialist nurses are instrumental in improving health outcomes and overall survival, reducing the burden of prostate cancer on the community and the health system.

“Our hospital-based service has provided nearly 500,000 occasions of care over the past nine years, including more than 200,000 consultations for men who live more than 100kms from a major city and face a 24 per cent increased risk of death due to the tyranny of distance.”

The report identifies seven key areas of benefit, highlighting significant productivity gains arising from specialist nursing services.

“The report highlights a range of important and life-changing outcomes for men as a result of their consultations with specialist nurses, including earlier referrals, increased adherence to treatment plans, reduced costs of care, and shorter wait times,” Ms Sara said.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia has called on the Federal Government to strengthen support for PCFA Specialist Nurses in line with the objectives of the Australian Cancer Plan.

“Without the ongoing expansion of specialist nursing services for men with prostate cancer, Australia’s tragic toll of 3,743 deaths every year will continue to rise,” Ms Savage said.

People can support PCFA by taking part in the Walk for Him during Men’s Health Week in June. Go to www.walkforhim.org.au to register.