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Strike shows Govt ignoring cancer problems

Roger Sowry National Health Spokesperson

16 November 2001

Strike shows Govt ignoring cancer problems

Today's vote by radiation therapists to strike is no surprise and shows how far the Health Minister is prepared to go to avoid addressing the problems in cancer treatment, National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

"Radiation therapists don't want to leave their patients waiting for treatment in what is already a desperate situation of growing waiting times and queues, but they have no choice.

"The Government has decided it would rather plough $80 million into an unnecessary and unpopular bank than address problems in cancer treatment. This is about whether you want a branch of the Kiwibank in your main street or radiation treatment that will save or extend New Zealanders' lives.

"If you extend the radiation therapists pay claim to all six centres it would cost an estimated $1 million, a mere 1.25% of the cost that the Government is putting into Jim Anderton's bank.

"In her two years as Minister, Annette King has done nothing to address radiation therapists' pay. She should step in and address the issue immediately.

"The therapists we have are leaving the country in droves because the Minister is not resourcing the area properly and is screwing down their pay.

"Annette King claims to have created more training places for therapists, but we'll never keep them here because they can get much better pay overseas.

"Today we heard that 13 palliative cancer patients have died in Wellington in the four months to September while awaiting treatment, but again the Minister wouldn't front to the media on the issue. She can run but she can't hide from her responsibility," Mr Sowry said.

Ends

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