The Cancer Psychological and Social Support Initiative
Budget 2014 provided sustainable funding of $4.2 million a year for improved cancer psychological and social support services across New Zealand, to ensure that the emotional and psychological needs of cancer patients are properly assessed and patients and families receive the support they need. Funding has been made available for six new clinical psychologists in the cancer centres (Auckland, Waikato, MidCentral, Capital and Coast, Canterbury and Southern DHBs) and a mixed support workforce of additional experienced social workers and psychologists.
DHBs have worked together to draft regional psychological and social support plans outlining how they will work together to capitalise on the funding provided for this initiative, and use it to maximum effect.These plans identify existing services and staffing, outline the gaps that exist for each region, and have determined what staff are required to address the needs of patients.
It was expected there would be 20 FTE social workers and psychologists, but the regional plan process has identified that funding will support even more positions. All the new appointees will work closely with existing cancer supportive care staff and as part of the wider interdisciplinary cancer care team.
In the South Island a regional Steering Group will oversee implementation of the South Island regional plan.