An initiative to have cancer nurse co-ordinators help patients diagnosed with cancer has got the thumbs up from an independent review.
All District Health Boards now have at least one full-time co-ordinator and there are about 70 across the country, says Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman.
In six months during 2015, about 6000 patients had contact with a co-ordinator.
A review of the system carried out by Litmus has found the co-ordinators are improving the diagnosis and treatment process for patients, creating a more positive and less stressful experience.
It also highlighted a need for better promotion of the role among primary care providers, and within Māori and Pacific communities, and an opportunity to link patients to other services, especially financial and emotional support services.
"Being diagnosed with cancer or waiting for a diagnosis can be an extremely traumatic time for patients and their families," says Dr Coleman.
"Cancer nurse co-ordinators are highly experienced nurses with expertise in navigating the system and helping patients access other support services."
The initiative is a key part of the $33 million package to improve cancer care in Budget 2012.