Today is International Nurses Day and the global theme - Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health - is a call to action to protect and elevate the profession for the benefit of us all. Florence Nightingale - considered to be the founder of modern nursing, was born on this day in May 1820.
Something that has always stood out for me is Nightingale’s place in history as a nurse scientist. She was a prodigious leader and an advocate for evidence-based healthcare, collecting and using data to carry out her system-changing work. Long before the age of infographics, she communicated her ideas through charts and diagrams, making data accessible and persuasive.
In this special edition of our Alliance newsletter, our Chair, Emeritus Professor Linda Kristjanson AO acknowledges International Nurses Day by reflecting on the legacy of Florence Nightingale. She is joined by other nurse leaders from across the VCCC Alliance who comment on the importance of data gathering, and how the right investment can protect and develop the nursing profession to thrive – whilst safeguarding the health and wellbeing of patients and communities worldwide.
Looking for a step change in funding and focus
With the impacts of COVID continuing, and widespread work-related fatigue among nurses, it is particularly important to honour their commitment, knowledge, and leadership. More than that, we must also advocate for the requisite policy, funding, investment and workplace support for nursing so that our health system can be strengthened for the future.
Patients and regional Victoria are key priorities according to the 2022/23 Victorian State Budget delivered last week. There is around $12 billion of health spending in the budget - including an investment in more nurses, doctors, paramedics, health services, and new and improved health infrastructure to meet the current challenges.
Regional cancer services in Ballarat, Traralgon and Geelong received a boost, with $11 million dedicated to linear accelerators. Having radiotherapy delivered close to home has such a significant quality of life benefit for patients and several VCCC Alliance member organisations have partnerships with regional health services to form collaborative networks, deliver services, and directly support patients in the regions.
With just over a week to go until the federal election, we hope there will be a commensurate commitment to the cancer system and research nationally, with some cancers, brain, lung, liver and pancreas continuing to be major challenges for our nation. We await further news regarding the specific investment to manage the continuing decline in cancer diagnoses and the anticipated surge that will put additional pressures on an already stressed system and our workforce.
Strategic Program Plan 2021-24
Alongside our continuing advocacy for cancer system improvements and research, we have just tabled the first major progress report on the Strategic Program Plan 2021-24 (SPP) which also puts patients and regions at the centre. The report covers progress from April 2021 to March 2022.
Despite being significantly impacted by the pandemic, we have undertaken extensive work and made progress toward our program goals. In this, I am very grateful for the efforts of our collaborators and consumers across the alliance for the role they are playing in program steering groups and committees. We truly could not get the work done without you.
Some areas worth highlighting include the progress that has been made in data sources and resources. Data underpins and informs all the work within the SPP. With detailed program and project plans now complete and progressing to implementation, there has been a focus on data to provide solid evidence that can inform the next steps.
We are also seeing strong cross-program synergies. This is supported by input from consumer involvement, health equity, evaluation, project management, education, communications, and event coordination resources. This matrixed backbone of support enhances collaboration, efficiency, and synergies across programs.
Consumer involvement in the SPP has further matured, with evidence of improved integration on so many fronts. Consumer partnership is evident at all levels of SPP governance, from program steering groups to the overall SPP through the Cancer Consumer Advisory Committee.
Additionally, rapid and meaningful progress is being made to embed an equity lens across programs, and we are further amplifying this through complementary initiatives across the sector.
2022 Melbourne Achiever Awards
In some tremendous news, Professor Shelley Dolan and I were privileged to represent the VCCC Alliance and Peter Mac at the Committee for Melbourne's 2022 Melbourne Achiever Awards last night where we were jointly awarded the organisational award for an outstanding contribution to Health and Research. We are honoured to receive and share the prestigious award with Peter Mac. Many people have contributed to this success, but at the heart is Melbourne’s exceptional foundations in biomedical research and medical care, so it is truly an award shared by the collective.
Alongside nursing and clinical trials, May is a month to raise awareness of brain cancer. Congratulations to all who were involved in the moving and compelling Brain Cancer Centre National Conference last week. The Brain Cancer Centre was founded by Carrie’s Beanies 4 Brain Cancer and established in partnership with WEHI with support from the Victorian Government. Brain cancer survival rates have not improved in 30 years and the event was a spectacular launch pad for communicating some of the incredibly exciting research projects underway to tackle this devastating disease.
Professor Grant McArthur