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Govt confused over special cancer funding

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesperson

1 November 2001

Govt confused over special cancer funding

The Government admitted today that special funding is needed so that cancer patients waiting lengthy periods for treatment can go to Australia for treatment, but it couldn't confirm which patients will be eligible.

"Associate Health Minister Ruth Dyson contradicted herself in Parliament today when answering questions over whether the Government will act on the desperate situation of long cancer treatment waiting times.

"She said extra funding would be available to district health boards so they could send cancer patients to Australia, but then said it would be on the basis of that adopted by Waikato District Health Board last year - Waikato paid for to send cancer patients across the Tasman out of its own budget.

"Ms Dyson wouldn't say how much extra funding would be available. We need to know if there will be extra funding, how much and how people can get access to it.

"I have got people contacting me who are going to Australia next week for treatment and others who have been and want to be reimbursed.

All this year National has been calling for the Government to fund patients for treatment in Australia so that horrendously long waiting times can be reduced from several months down to weeks.

"This Government has spent the last 18 months screwing down health funding and even told boards to cut their costs, that is services, or they would be penalised. "Cancer specialists in Australia are bending over backwards to help New Zealand cancer patients, even finding them cheap accommodation for their stay. It is not good enough that the Government has turned a blind eye to patients who have had unnecessary emotional trauma due to delays in treatment," Mr Sowry said.


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