Nurse-led oncology telephone triage service for patients receiving oncology/haematology treatment

Dr Louise Nicholson1

1Royal Hobart Hospital, Hobart, Australia


The RHH Cancer Services nurse- led oncology telephone triage service provides a point of contact for patients and their carers.

The aim of the service is early intervention to prevent, reduce or manage treatment related side-effects and to relieve psychosocial issues related to the cancer journey.The expectation is that more broadly, this programme will reduce presentations to the Department of Emergency Medicine and hospital admissions, assist patients with complying with treatment regimens, reduce treatment related complications and ease psychosocial distress for patients and carers. 950 calls were logged between July 1st 2018 – June 30th 2019.

Findings: A cursory examination of the data demonstrates that the most common symptom is pain, followed by gastro-intestinal symptoms. The majority of patients/carers calling the service have been assisted with telephone advice only – without the need for referral to other health professionals; demonstrating that knowledgeable and skilled oncology nurses can play a major role in optimising cancer care. The implementation of the Nurse-led oncology telephone triage service has brought about many improvements in clinical practice and patient care within the Royal Hobart Hospital. An aim of the program is to foster an ongoing partnership with inpatient and outpatient oncology units as with other units, such as the emergency department of the RHH.  The partnership is vital as it enhances the sharing of information and helps to improve care of patients with cancer. Our intention is to formally evaluate our service as it currently stands and formulate a future plan for enhancement with an evidence-based approach.


Louise Nicholson has been employed as a nurse practitioner in cancer care at the Royal Hobart Hospital for four years. The role is diverse covering all aspects of oncology including haematology, radiation  and medical oncology. Louise was awarded a Doctor of Nurse Practitioner (Research) degree in March of this year with a keen interest to integrate research into clinical practice.