The Symptom and Urgent Review Clinic (SURC) is a nurse led model of care which has been implemented in Victorian Health Services to support patients following systemic anti-cancer therapy. This service provides a single point of contact for individuals and carers to report symptoms and receive advice with an aim to address symptoms early to avoid presentations to the emergency department (ED) or inpatient admissions.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services cancer reform unit recognised the need to support cancer services respond to the impact of COVID-19 by providing additional funding to existing SURC services. An expression of interest (EOI) for public day oncology units with an existing SURC service was initiated in April 2020. Health services submitted proposals to adapt their existing model of care, to support additional hours of care and provide increased resources in order to respond to the impact of the pandemic.
A total of ten health services received funding. Successful sites were required to provide monthly reporting of SURC activity including the number and type of SURC episodes, the impact of COVID-19 on each service and changes made to ensure the safety of patients receiving systemic anti-cancer treatments (SACT). Preliminary data for the first three months since implementation includes over 6,000 episodes of care. Some services have taken a significant role in pre-treatment screening for symptoms and potential exposure to COVID-19. There is variation in the use and uptake of telehealth. Patient education has been adapted. SURC services have been required to “fill the gaps” in care, triaging patients and assisting them to navigate the system.
Additional resources have supported health services to respond to patients during the COVID-19 crisis.