April 6, 2023

The Symptom Urgent Review Clinic introduces extended hours

The Symptom Urgent Review Clinic (SURC) at Northern Health is a nurse-led clinic that provides services to cancer patients who are experiencing distressing side effects from undergoing systemic (chemotherapy or immunotherapy) treatment at Northern Health.

SURC provides an alternative to patients attending the Emergency Department (for those with non-critical issues), and is staffed by experienced cancer nurses, who may provide patients with advice over the phone or request that they come into the clinic.

The aim of the clinic is to recognise and manage problems early to help keep people well at home and prevent and minimise hospital presentations and admissions.

From 6 February 2023, SURC extended its hours and staff are now available seven days a week from 8 am – 8 pm.

SURC is located in the portable building outside entrance 5 in the Day Oncology Unit at the Northern Hospital Epping.

Northern Health is the first health service in Victoria to offer its patients specialist cancer-nursing advice through SURC, seven days a week.

“We are very privileged to be able to offer this service to our vulnerable patients. Undergoing chemotherapy can be overwhelming and patients often feel at ease knowing they can contact us for advice or attend the clinic for a review. Booking an appointment with a local GP or coming into ED can be very difficult for them, especially with the long wait times,” said Northern Health SURC Coordinator, Georgina East.

Northern Health Director of Medical Oncology, Dr Frances Barnett says SURC has substantially improved the overall health of Northern Health’s cancer patients since it was originally launched in 2019.

“This extension of the days and times that SURC operates will undoubtedly improve cancer care even more,” she said.

SURC Nurse Practitioner, Michael Cooney says he is very proud of how much the service has achieved so far, especially because the Northern Hospital Epping SURC was the first, and for some time, the only SURC overseen by a dedicated Nurse Practitioner.

“The SURC has established itself as a natural extension to the excellent patient care that patients and families affected by cancer receive at Northern Health. Patients and carers who have accessed the SURC frequently feed back to us how safe and confident they feel in the care they receive from the cancer nurses and medical staff who work within and support the SURC,” he said.

“The true nurse-led nature of the service is able to provide such high-quality care because of the excellent clinical support provided by both the senior and junior medical staff of the Medical Oncology and Haematology clinical units. I am very proud of what we have been able to achieve so far and very excited about the future of this valuable service.”

Referrals to SURC can be made by emailing: surc@nh.org.au or by calling 0498 131 363


Pictured (left to right): Georgina East, SURC Coordinator, Hashika Dharmatilleka, SURC Nurse, Nancy Abraham, SURC Nurse, and Michael Cooney, SURC Nurse Practitioner