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Honesty Needed In Cancer Treatment Stats

23 April 2002

It is time the Ministry of Health and the Minister of Health came clean and released the real cancer treatment waiting statistics, National Health Spokesperson Roger Sowry said today.

"It is no surprise that a radiation oncologist has said that the Canterbury cancer treatment waiting figures have been manipulated to paint a rosier picture than is the case.

"I am greatly concerned that some Canterbury cancer patients requiring radiation treatment to start within 14 days of notification are having to wait up to 33 days - a wait that could jeopardise their survival.

"The Ministry of Health consistently promotes the best figures it can find in cancer waiting times in its monthly reports. These figures omit the numbers of patients still waiting to begin treatment, they only show the number of people who have started treatment.

"Ministry statistics show the numbers who have started treatment who waited 4-6 weeks, and those who waited more than six weeks. Media reports show that many Canterbury patients are waiting beyond 10 weeks, and the average wait in Wellington and Auckland has been several weeks longer than this which is unacceptable. "It is about time the Ministry of Health and district health boards showed the real length of time cancer patients are waiting. This is the openness and transparency the public expects after the Government's promises," Mr Sowry said.

Ends

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