Medical research,

LRH to take lead on increasing clinical trials in Gippsland

Staff from Latrobe Regional Health’s research and cancer team joined five other Gippsland health services to discuss how they can work together to deliver clinical trials closer to home to further reduce travel for the many patients who still miss out.

Hosted by TrialHub, based at Alfred Health, the purpose of the event was to share opportunities for future research and clinical trial activity across the Gippsland region based on existing and emerging expertise.

The Federal Government’s TrialHub pilot program started almost four years ago as a metro-to-regional hospital partnership model to support the establishment of sustainable clinical trial units in regional, rural and outer metro hospitals.

Latrobe Regional Health was selected as one of six Victorian health services to participate in the Australian-first program.

Clinical trials can give patients access to the latest treatments or interventions, but regional and rural patients often miss out because, historically, they’ve only been available at a city hospital.

Latrobe Regional Health’s General Manager of Research and Partnerships, Jhodie Duncan, presented the challenges and successes of setting up their inaugural clinical trial unit almost five years ago.

Since 2019, almost 30 clinical trials have opened at LRH and more than 100 patients have been recruited onto trials, providing advance care options closer to home and saving Gippsland patients hours of travel to Melbourne.

However, it was recognised that distance to Latrobe Regional Health is still too much for many Gippsland patients.

Anne Woollett, director of TrialHub said: “While small health services recognise that alone they cannot provide a full suite of trials and trial services, but when working together, the opportunities are so much greater.”

West Gippsland Health, Gippsland Southern Health, Central Gippsland Health, Bass Coast Health and Bairnsdale Regional Health shared their current capabilities and what they’d like to be able to offer their patients.

There was unanimous agreement that clinical trials are vital to patient care, and the group left committed to increasing access for the entire region.

Gippsland clinical trial ambassador, and one of Latrobe Regional Health’s first ever oncology clinical trial participants, Nick Johnson, gave the group a great personal insight into being on a clinical trial.

Latrobe Regional Health will help lead a soon-to-be-formed Gippsland clinical trials working group to move Friday’s conversations forward.