Canberra’s first permanent gynaecological surgery service

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 Canberra’s first permanent gynaecological surgery service

Jane Harriss has been fighting for a permanent surgical service for gynaecological cancers in Canberra for almost two decades - with good reason.

My mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a few years ago, and she died with it, after having survived for seven years, Ms Harriss said.

Ms Hariss's mum, Erica, made three trips to Sydney for separate surgeries, with follow-up appointments in Canberra through a fortnightly clinic provided by Sydney's Royal Hospital for Women.

Work is underway to remove that travel requirement and deliver the capital's first permanent gyneacological surgery service.

Canberra Health Services is just beginning to work through what the model of care will look like, what supports will be required to make sure that can happen, ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

Since the surgeon announced he would be retiring at the end of the year and Canberra-based doctor Leon Foster put his hand up to run a permanent clinic if funding is found, the FIFO service has faced an uncertain future for months.

Ma Stephen-Smith suggested funding was not the issue at a media conference on June 17.

It's more about assessing when the number of people that are having to travel interstate is sufficient to bring that service into the ACT, she said at the time.

She confirmed on Monday that Canberra Health Services had advertised for a full-time specialist surgeon and a merit-based recruitment process was required.

Ms Harriss said progress was better late than never and every woman she'd met through her ovarian cancer support group had been frustrated by the absence of a permanent Canberra clinic.

She said they had to travel when they were very ill because it's diagnosed late-stage.

Ms Harriss said she was pleased that the government had chosen to go down this path. It's wonderful for women who are currently dealing with the disease and those who could potentially be diagnosed in the future, she said.

It will make life not easier, but a little bit less stressful.