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King must confront cancer waiting lists

Roger Sowry National Social Services Spokesperson

1 April 2001

King must confront cancer waiting lists

Official statistics show the number of cancer patients waiting for urgent treatment continues to escalate, despite the Government's pledge to reduce waiting times, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

Health Minister Annette King has confirmed the number of patients around the country waiting for more than four weeks for oncology radiation treatment increased from 188 in June 2000 to 234 in February 2001, with 151 (65%) waiting longer than 6 weeks.

"It's an outrage that once the decision to treat has been made patients are languishing on waiting lists for longer than the clinical recommendation of four weeks."

The numbers starting treatment on time has slipped dramatically from 429 in June 2000 to 268 in February 2001. Only 53% are getting treated when they should.

"The Health Minister is rightly ashamed of these statistics and this is reflected in her decision to defer releasing them. Instead 'the Minister of Spin' issued a press release in which she attempted to allay fears by saying the growing waiting lists were an 'expected bulge.'

"Annette King should stop making excuses. She did after all promise the buck would stop with her under the new health system.

"There is real concern, from the likes of radiotherapy workers, that waiting lists will get worse before they better. Again, I call on the Minister to initiate more treatment programmes and give cancer patients the option of being treated in Australia.

"The Minister must urgently act to relieve the mounting stress on patients and their families painstakingly awaiting treatment," Mr Sowry said.

Ends

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