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Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

Case study:

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

Founded in 2009 and based on collaboration, inclusion and consultation, the VCCC alliance works to develop and support new research and technologies for the benefit of Victorian cancer patients. Its purpose-built home, located in the Melbourne suburb of Parkville, opened in early 2016.

The centre describes itself as a multidisciplinary, multi-site alliance of 10 leading research, academic and clinical organisations working together to accelerate research, knowledge and expertise to improve health outcomes.

The VCCC’s Executive Director, Professor Grant McArthur, says that more than 250 people drawn from alliance members and other organisations are involved in committees, leadership roles, steering groups, working groups, advisory boards and programs as part of the centre’s work:

This novel approach is already changing the way we tackle cancer in Victoria. The VCCC’s success has been driven by commitment to a shared goal: to deliver better outcomes for Victorians. It is this collective focus that enables system level change and makes this alliance greater than the sum of its parts.

The alliance works together to facilitate research-led solutions, integrate consumer perspectives and deliver evidence-based outcomes to change the way in which cancer is responded to in Victoria.

In addition to my roles of clinician and researcher, I am also a cancer survivor. I am well aware of the often-catastrophic impact a cancer diagnosis can have on the physical and mental wellbeing of patients and their families.

We seek to address the complete patient path from diagnosis to treatment, survivorship and palliative care, delivering systems, structures, research and clinical care to overcome cancer together.

As well as drawing on the knowledge of some of Victoria’s pre-eminent researchers, clinicians and experts, the alliance believes there is much to be gained from listening to consumers, placing them at the forefront of its work. Consumers are represented on all the steering committees, and there is also a consumer advisory committee that has input into the strategic and operational work of the VCCC alliance.

Although not everyone receives care or treatment through the alliance, the approach adopted means that scientific evidence and research are translated into broader patient and community gains, leading to earlier detection, prevention and treatment options:

Ultimately everyone reaps the reward of our activity. Our fundamental premise is that an alliance with a shared goal will achieve greater benefits more quickly than an individual organisation could achieve alone.

A highly skilled and capable cancer workforce is essential to research excellence and high-quality, patient-centred care. Since 2016 the VCCC has involved nearly 19,000 participants in education and training initiatives and launched Australia’s first online Master of Cancer Sciences degree, which was designed and developed with the assistance of more than 160 subject matter experts. Sixty-three students have enrolled in the first year of the course.

To date, 11 trials have been supported through the VCCC with a total of 6,500 potential international and national patient enrolments and $7.2 million in leveraged funding.

The alliance has also provided professional development and support for regional clinical trial teams to expand the number of trials locally.

In addition, VCCC Regional Oncology Leads, representing the regional cancer community, have established methods for implementing clinical trials, fostered education opportunities and developed strategic partnerships and networks in metropolitan and regional cancer centres.

VCCC program outcomes have also contributed to:

  • Victoria’s first cancer teletrial—43 regional patients are currently enrolled in the trial and further cancer clinical trials have been identified
  • a Centre for Cancer Immunotherapy, bringing six institutions together into one lab
  • linking approximately 2.5 million health records between primary care and hospitals to help new research into cancer health services.

Source: Interim Report, November 2019