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Irresponsible Presentation Of Radiation Figures

National's Health spokesperson Roger Sowry said today he was seriously concerned at the marked drop in the number of people starting radiation treatment.

"The December statistics show only 411 patients started treatment compared to 530 starting treatment in November, a decrease of over 20 percent. This is also 25 percent down on the number recorded for December 2000 when 545 patients started treatment.

"The Ministry of Health is trumpeting that fewer people are waiting more than six weeks for radiation treatment. The reality is that these statistics only record the number of people starting treatment. They do not tell us how many people have been diagnosed with cancer but are still waiting to begin treatment.

"It is appalling for the Government to suggest that these figures are an improvement. Who are they trying to kid when the number of people starting treatment has dropped in all six cancer treatment centres?

"In Auckland the number dropped by 48, in Hamilton it was down 29, in Palmerston North there were 19 fewer, in Wellington the number was down 24, in Christchurch 39 fewer started treatment and in Dunedin those starting treatment was down 15.

"It is simply irresponsible to paint a positive picture of these statistics when far fewer patients are receiving radiation treatment," Mr Sowry said.


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