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Cancer treatment - public or private


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#1 SplashingRainbows

Posted 21 October 2019 - 07:49 PM

I know there is a large medical fraternity on EB, and the accepted wisdom is that the public system is best for emergency care.

Curious as to thoughts around oncology - public? Private? Pros and cons? Things to know.

Appreciate any thoughts.

#2 ~Bob~

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:00 PM

Public system is perfect and free, though I would see any of the specialists you need privately to avoid delays.

#3 JomoMum

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:01 PM

I can’t speak for public, only private, so I don’t know if any of the below observations occur in public too.

My experience was seamless. In terms of practicalities, I never had to wait for anything or anyone, I was always either in my own private room or a very comfortable area in the chemo ward if only staying for a few hours. Food and drink was often and aplenty.

My oncologist was always nearby for questions and often visited. The pharmacist visited often to discuss side effects and medications were dispensed immediately as needed.

Parking was reserved every day we were there so we never had to pay for parking and DH could stay as long as he wanted, or come and go as he pleased. They even had a parking attendant to monitor and make sure it flowed well.

DH and I have discussed a few times since (this was early 2018), that even if we never claimed on our PHI again, that having it for that period of time will have made it worthwhile for a lifetime. I’m sure there’s more I’ve forgotten.

They might seem like trivial little things, but when you’re going through something so physically and mentally draining, and absolutely petrifying, those things are the things that can make a difference each day.

I hope everything is ok with you or your family OP x

Eta - I knew there’d be things I forgot.
The only time we ever paid for anything was the excess for the first hospital stay, which was also the surgery to remove the tumour. We only pay once per person with our fund so for future stays, inpatient our outpatient, we didn’t have to pay again. Medications, scans, procedures (picc line insertion) medical supplies, weekly blood tests were all covered.

Edited by JomoMum, 21 October 2019 - 08:24 PM.


#4 feralisles

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:07 PM

I think the services available would vary a lot in different areas, so it would be impossible to generalise.  

For example, until recently the area I live in only had a private radiotherapy clinic.  Public patients had to travel to the nearest capital city, over an hour away, for regular radiotherapy appointments.  That's not easy if you are sick, or for carers who are taking time off work to get you there.

There are often significant out of pocket costs for private patients, so if public services are available that might suit better.

If you don't mind sharing where you live, someone might be able to give you more specific information.

#5 Chchgirl

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:08 PM

My dh did public even though we had private cover. The oncologists were at the public hospital,  there were no private where we were. Six months were doneat Christchurch hospital in Nz who were great,  I'm happy to share what hospital it was in Sydney

At the time the treatment was very good over the two years.

Edited by Chchgirl, 21 October 2019 - 08:10 PM.


#6 JRA

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:11 PM

I did private. My breast surgeon and oncologist were private and chemo was private. For chemo I was admitted for the day, so it was covered under private insurance.

Sadly second time around I did private radio therapy. It cost a FORTUNE as it was not covered by private insurance as I was not admitted, that was a big mistake. I wish I had radio therapy publicly at peter mac

#7 gettin my fance on

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:17 PM

My friend's DH has recently undergone chemo, radiation and surgery for bowel cancer and now has a stoma - all through the public system following a colonoscopy in the same hospital.

Friend cannot fault the treatment and care provided which all took place quite quickly after the cancer was diagnosed.

Parking pass was available for the duration of chemo and radiation and surgery.

All specialist staff in the one centre - newly opened cancer care centre.

No fees whatsoever (except for a small payment to the Stoma Society for all stoma products required for the next 12 months).

#8 Dianalynch

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:18 PM

Private out of pocket costs can be very high if that’s a factor for you - scans, radio etc

#9 ~TSC~

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:24 PM

It really REALLY depends on location.

#10 Sara.xoxo

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:31 PM

I had initial surgery in private then for chemo and radiation I went public. It definitely depends on the hospital. Public hospital oncologist appointments generally you will wait long past the time of your appointment, but it is all free.
I had half my treatment in Sydney and half in Melbourne. In Sydney public hospital all parking was free. In Melbourne I have to pay for parking. It really depends...

#11 FretfulMum

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:50 PM

I work in cancer services in a large, tertiary metropolitan hospital. I would say many of the oncologists/haematologists I work with are world class & some are leaders in their fields. Most costs are covered (scans/blood tests/many supportive medications) and can be organised quickly. The day care unit and ward is very crowded however and often runs late/over time due to the volume of patients. There can be waiting times of 1-2hrs for oral chemotherapeutic medications to be dispensed & you may not see the same doctor at each appointment (it will likely be a registrar working under the consultant). If the clinics are overbooked you may wait 1-2hrs for your appointment.

There is also a large private hospital nearby where some of the cancer specialists work. I have private health insurance so I would probably choose to see one of them privately there. I can also afford to pay any other out of pocket costs so this wouldn’t be too much of an issue. The private hospital facilities are nicer and much less crowded.

#12 little lion

Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:53 PM

It depends what kind of cancer, treatment modalities needed and where you live. I’ve worked in both public and private oncology.

Edited to say sorry that this is a question you find yourself asking.

Edited by little lion, 21 October 2019 - 08:59 PM.


#13 xxyzed

Posted 21 October 2019 - 09:36 PM

I have experience with both systems. My husband went public. It took a lot of complaints and work through issues with the public system to get appropriate care for him. I went private when I needed treatment and received the appropriate care from the beginning that had taken 12 months to get to an acceptable level with the public system for my husband.

#14 NeedSleepNow

Posted 21 October 2019 - 10:01 PM

My first job out of uni was in public oncology, although in allied health. It would probably depend somewhat on the type of cancer and individual specialists, but I’d likely opt to go privately if I could. Not so much for any perceived benefits in care, but I think I’d struggle with the crowding and waiting times I witnessed at work, and most of those admitted ended up in 4- patient rooms, often sharing with people who were in their final days. It could be really distressing and confronting for people in the earlier stages of their illness and it could be upsetting for the dying person and their family when they wanted complete privacy during those final stages. The hospital tried really hard to give them single rooms at that time, but it wasn’t always possible. That said, I do believe the hospital has upgraded its facilities, so that might not be the case still.

#15 Bereckii

Posted 21 October 2019 - 10:52 PM

Sounds like it is very area dependent.

How do you gather the information needed to make an informed decision?

#16 Chchgirl

Posted 21 October 2019 - 11:05 PM

We didn't have time.  We were going back to Sydney from Nz to do a certain treatment and went back to our old area so the hospital in Nz did the transfer for us. This was nearly 8 years ago, I'm not sure if things have changed

Edited by Chchgirl, 21 October 2019 - 11:06 PM.


#17 ~Nic~

Posted 21 October 2019 - 11:27 PM

I did both. Found a lump, saw the GP in April who referred me to a private surgeon and to be honest, I didn't even consider going public at that point as the GP could get me in with the private dr within a couple of days and I just wanted it looked at asap. Surgery (lumpectomy and lymph nodes) in the private,chemo in the day oncology section of the private and then radiation in the public. I swapped because the surgery and chemo were classed as inpatient in private hosp, so were covered on my health insurance. The radiation therapy however was outpatient and health funds and Medicare are not allowed to pay a benefit on outpatient services in a private hospital but are fully covered in the public hospital (private hospital wanted to charge me $2500 out of pocket for the 4 weeks of daily radiation therapy, public hospital bulk billed). I got in to the public hospital just as quickly as I would have in the private hospital and I couldn't fault them. All of the staff were beautiful and made life as easy as possible for me. I wouldn't hesitate to go back to the public for treatment if I needed.

Hope everything goes well for you and your family OP xoxo 😘

Edited by ~Nic~, 21 October 2019 - 11:29 PM.


#18 purplekitty

Posted 22 October 2019 - 12:11 AM

Public.

#19 SplashingRainbows

Posted 22 October 2019 - 03:27 AM

View Postpurplekitty, on 22 October 2019 - 12:11 AM, said:

Public.

If you are happy to share why I’d appreciate it a lot. No probs if not.

Thanks everyone for sharing - I’m sorry most of you have been down this path before.

Unfortunately the situation is advanced (a close relative not me) and treatment will not be for a cure. Hearing all the pros and cons is helping me understand the current situation a little better. I’m frustrated at some aspects of the current situation but I can see these are more palatable to my relative than some of the shortcomings of the other system and I’m desperately wanting to be supportive so that helps.

#20 gracie1978

Posted 22 October 2019 - 04:27 AM

I have two friends undergoing cancer treatment at our local hospitals, one public, one private.

If you have the money go private it's less stressful, you don't lose half days sitting around.

It was also a shorter waiting time to see a surgeon (one day wait v 2 weeks) and there was flexibility with the surgery date and an easier recovery in a private room.

Sounds like a combination could be a good idea and it might be worth finding a specialist who works in both and can transfer them back into public if radiation is required.

I'm sorry to hear about your relative xx



#21 SOJ

Posted 22 October 2019 - 07:24 AM

I went private for myself and was carer for my Dad in the public system. I think the care in both systems have pros and cons, good and bad, but I think one of the main differences for us was, in the public system you have to be very confident and prepared to pick up on all thats going on. Keeping track of whats said, asking questions, and helping with the care. The public system is an amazing thing but it is really crowded, over worked and probably underfunded. Staff work to rule (I don't blame them!) but sometimes this can effect the care thats provided. I suppose what I'm saying is if the patient has support and someone to help and speak up for them, the public system is very very good.
My experience with breast cancer, surgery,chemo and radiation, and post care has been mostly positive. I think if I have a re occurance I would probably use the same clinic, I'm comfortable with the treatment I received, but I would be better prepared for what was going on. Its a rollercoaster and sometimes you feel like you just hang on and hope for the best.

#22 Not Escapin Xmas

Posted 22 October 2019 - 07:32 AM

View PostSplashingRainbows, on 22 October 2019 - 03:27 AM, said:

If you are happy to share why I’d appreciate it a lot. No probs if not.

Thanks everyone for sharing - I’m sorry most of you have been down this path before.

Unfortunately the situation is advanced (a close relative not me) and treatment will not be for a cure. Hearing all the pros and cons is helping me understand the current situation a little better. I’m frustrated at some aspects of the current situation but I can see these are more palatable to my relative than some of the shortcomings of the other system and I’m desperately wanting to be supportive so that helps.

Depending on the state, if you have access to Silver Chain that would be my first port of call regardless. Silver Chain are pallative specialists, funded through donations/govt so it's free for the patient. They made all the difference when mum was sick.

#23 Chchgirl

Posted 22 October 2019 - 08:05 AM

View PostSplashingRainbows, on 22 October 2019 - 03:27 AM, said:



If you are happy to share why I’d appreciate it a lot. No probs if not.

Thanks everyone for sharing - I’m sorry most of you have been down this path before.

Unfortunately the situation is advanced (a close relative not me) and treatment will not be for a cure. Hearing all the pros and cons is helping me understand the current situation a little better. I’m frustrated at some aspects of the current situation but I can see these are more palatable to my relative than some of the shortcomings of the other system and I’m desperately wanting to be supportive so that helps.

It's ok , I totally understand.  Anyone that knows me well pn Eb knows that it was not a cure, only to help and extend life for a while.

It was at Liverpool hospital in Sydney and their oncology and palliative care teams were top notch. I got to see them build a whole new upgrade over two years.

Christchurch hospital were great as well but we came back to Australia to do a treatment here that wasn't funded there by advice of the oncologist there otherwise we wouldn't have come back.

I hope they find a good one.

#24 SplashingRainbows

Posted 22 October 2019 - 09:32 AM

View PostNot Escapin Xmas, on 22 October 2019 - 07:32 AM, said:



Depending on the state, if you have access to Silver Chain that would be my first port of call regardless. Silver Chain are pallative specialists, funded through donations/govt so it's free for the patient. They made all the difference when mum was sick.

Sadly I recently convinced them to start talking to our local PC team (public) which has a great rep then the oncol said they didn’t need to worry yet.
I’m ropeable but that is probably partly my grief talking.
Some of the advantages of the option she has chosen would be very important to her so it is helpful for me to remember those.

#25 purplekitty

Posted 22 October 2019 - 11:37 AM

View PostSplashingRainbows, on 22 October 2019 - 03:27 AM, said:

If you are happy to share why I’d appreciate it a lot. No probs if not.

Thanks everyone for sharing - I’m sorry most of you have been down this path before.

Unfortunately the situation is advanced (a close relative not me) and treatment will not be for a cure. Hearing all the pros and cons is helping me understand the current situation a little better. I’m frustrated at some aspects of the current situation but I can see these are more palatable to my relative than some of the shortcomings of the other system and I’m desperately wanting to be supportive so that helps.
I think it is fair to say,as PP have said,that it depends on the location.

Major tertiary public hospitals treat major illness well with allied health services and other specialists at hand and no unexpected costs.
Palliative care consults start early,not just at the end of life.

There is peer review,best practice and doctors available 24 hours.
Patients are cared for by a multidisciplinary team.

In private there will be less waiting and it will be more comfortable usually but not better treatment,it may be inferior.
There is also access to a large number of clinical drug trials in public.

If possible see a private oncologist who has a public hospital position.




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