Lack of Canberra Dermatologists Forces Melanoma Patients To Travel Interstate

Canberra residents with serious skin problems, including people with melanoma, are being forced to travel to New South Wales to see dermatologists due to a shortage of specialists and lengthy waiting times in the nation’s capital.

The Australasian College of Dermatologists reports that GPs in Canberra are not referring their patients to local dermatologists because patients could be waiting up to six months for specialist treatment.

There are six dermatologists working in the Australian Capital Territory – half the number necessary to support the region’s population, the College reports.

Many dermatologists are returning referrals to GPs, suggesting they look for an alternative approach to treatment as patients cannot be seen by specialists in a clinically appropriate time.

Patients are then left to travel interstate to seek specialists with the skills to treat their condition – often several times and at short notice.

The Australasian College of Dermatologists suggests that Canberra needs more dermatologists and practitioners skilled in skin cancer medicine, in order to reduce extended waiting periods. It says the expertise exist in Canberra to manage patients, but the expectation to “just go to Sydney” has become the norm in recent years due to significant wait times.

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Evans, J. (May 29, 2017.) Lack of Canberra dermatologists forcing skin cancer patients to travel across the border. ABC.

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