E-poster Presentation 2014 World Cancer Congress

Quantifying workforce ratios for paediatric oncology services. How do we plan for our future? (#1091)

Amy Shelly 1 , Jane Williamson 1 , Peter Downie 1 , Sheila Hirst 2
  1. Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service, Parkville, VIC, Australia
  2. Sheila Hirst Consulting, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Background and Context:

Management of paediatric oncology requires extensive multidisciplinary staffing. A recent audit of activity in Victorian primary treating centres, for the period 2006-07 to 2009-10, revealed significant increases in usage for inpatient activity (^26%), chemotherapy (^38%) and radiation therapy (^50%).


Within the context of this increasing service usage, together with increasing birth rates, treatment complexity and survival, a project was undertaken to estimate patient to staff ratios for medical, non-ward based nursing and allied health workforce for Victorian paediatric oncology primary treating centres.


Workforce ratios were estimated for 19 medical, nursing and allied health groups. Where available, ratios were informed by industrial awards, guidelines and/or models of care. Professional disciplines identified tasks required for newly diagnosed children at key pathway points. Time was allocated to each task, for each level of care, using a risk stratified approach (low, moderate and high risk/need).

Programme/Policy Process:

The methodology used in this project allowed for the calculation of ratios of newly diagnosed children per annum to 1 full-time equivalent (FTE). The formula developed to calculate FTE requirements is; number of newly diagnosed patients divided by recommended ratio, equals recommended EFT required. For example, if 217 children are newly diagnosed in 1 year, with a ratio of 82 newly diagnosed children to 1 FTE Radiation Oncologist, 2.6 FTE Radiation Oncologist is recommended.

Outcomes/What was learned:

Limited national and international models are available to estimate paediatric oncology medical, nursing and allied health workforce ratios. These ratios will assist the primary treating centres to plan future workforce requirements. In addition, the methodology used may assist other states in Australia, as well as overseas health services, to plan for oncology medical, nursing and allied health workforce in the future.