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Cancer patient waiting lists multiplying

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesperson

25 February 2001

Cancer patient waiting lists multiplying

Cancer patients waiting for urgent treatment are increasing despite Labour promises that waiting times would reduce under its Government, National's Health spokesman Roger Sowry says.

Mr Sowry quoted official figures detailing significant increases in patient waiting times for urgent oncology treatment around the country since June 2000. "Annette King said last year under the new health system the buck would stop with her. Now the Government should explain why it has let these waiting lists blow out.

The figures show the number of patients waiting more than six weeks in Christchurch multiplied seven times, and in Hamilton five times since June 30 2000, with significant increases also in Auckland and Palmerston North.

"At the same time the number of patients starting treatment on time has halved in Christchurch and Palmerston North and dropped 20 percent in Auckland.

"Health Minister Annette King should act urgently to relieve mounting stress on cancer patients and their families awaiting treatment.

"For these people who are waiting for over six weeks the Minister is their only hope and she should act. She cannot just carry on sitting on her hands.

"The Minister should initiate more treatment programmes for New Zealand cancer patients. All these people waiting should be given the option of getting their treatment done in Australia.

Health Waikato flies cancer patients to Australia for treatment.

The Auckland District Health Board told Parliament's Health Select Committee on Wednesday that growing waiting lists and problems with recruiting radio therapy workers were major concerns. "They are concerned that the waiting lists will get worse before they get better.

Ends

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