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Bunkle Urges For Cancer Control Agency

Alliance health spokeswoman Phillida Bunkle has renewed her calls for a national cancer control agency, to cover screening programmes and coodinated care of cancer patients

"We know how to do screening programmes – what we need to do is make sure those programmes work in a cohesive way that saves lives. Policy does not appear to be the problem – but there seems to be a problem in delivery.

"We know already through the Gisborne Inquiry that we need a cancer control programme run nationally, and not in bits and pieces around the country.

"A systematic approach to detecting cancer, and dealing with it, is a key part of saving lives that have been affected by problems with the system in the past," she said.

Ms Bunkle said a national approach to dealing with cancer needed quality control mechanisms, proper and regular assessment and monitoring.

"We can't stop there. We also need to link this work to treatment – we must ensure that cancer victims have coodinated care, and care that is consistent no matter what part of the country you are in," she said.

Ms Bunkle pointed to an article, written by Brian Cox, Chris Atkinson, Vernon Harvey and Betsy Marshall, that was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal in December last year.

"This article warns that the need for strategic planning in this area is critical or problems would become worse in the short and long term and also warned 'more crises can be expected'."

"I firmly believe that a cancer control agency would have prevented a number of premature deaths, including the recent and sad passing away of Gisborne woman Kathleen Ward."

"A strategic and systematic approach would have avoided what happened in Gisborne, Wanganui and now Dunedin."

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