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King must act urgently on cancer crisis

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesman

23 July 2001

King must act urgently on cancer crisis

"Annette King needs to take immediate action and show some leadership over the crisis in waiting times for cancer treatment," National's Health spokesman Roger Sowry said today.

"Cancer treatment requires extra funding and the Minister is keeping her head down while refusing to help. The price of her failure to act is increased suffering and distress for patients with cancer, coupled with the knowledge those cancers may develop, while the patient awaits treatment, to a point where they cannot be treated.

"At the very least Mrs King should ensure funding is made available so that patients stuck on waiting lists for cancer treatment can be sent to Australia for treatment.

"While she busies herself with health board elections and other restructuring distractions, patients and their families are suffering.

"The latest figures show a worsening problem:

* Fewer people started treatment in June than in May (647 in May versus 552 in June).

* A massive 41% are still waiting more than 4 weeks for treatment.

* In Auckland 210 patients started treatment in May, but in June that number fell dramatically to 129. That is the lowest number of patients starting treatment since January 2000.

* In Palmerston North the number of people waiting more than 4-6 weeks has increased between may and June, while the proportion waiting more than 6 weeks have grown from 29% in May to 34.2% in June

* In Wellington the number of patients starting treatment dropped from 72 in May to 58 in June.

* In Dunedin the number starting treatment fell from 79 in May to 65 in June, while the percentage waiting 4-6 weeks grew from 19% in May to 23% in June.

Ends

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