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Ideology Blocks Timely Cancer Treatment

Ideology Blocks Timely Cancer Treatment

The news that cancer treatment waiting lists are growing longer is not inevitable, ACT New Zealand Health Spokesman Heather Roy said today.

World Health Organisation guidelines recommend treatment within 4 weeks of surgery, yet patients in Canterbury have an average wait of 14 weeks, Waikato patients 12 weeks and Wellington patients eight weeks.

"Timely treatment for cancer patients is not a `Mission Impossible'. Last year Auckland waiting times were among the longest in the country - and this year urgent and semi-urgent patients wait no longer than one week for treatment. Auckland has managed this simply by utilizing shift work.

"The Health Minister continues to blame issues completely out of her control for the climbing waiting lists, like a `worldwide shortage' of radiation specialists.

"Some patients are offered treatment at private units in Australia. This begs the question of why we have no private facilities in NZ. The reason is the Health Minister's ideology. Given the Government's philosophical objection to private healthcare, no-one in their right mind would take the risk of setting up such a costly unit when the Health Minister would be unlikely to allow any consistent, ongoing contracts.

"Forty radiation therapists are due to graduate soon but if recent trends continue many will pursue their careers overseas where pay is higher and working conditions better. We continue to train our health professionals for export. The Minister of Health has allocated only two percent to DHBs for wage and salary increases, but radiation therapists can earn up to three-times-more overseas.

"Annette King accepts no responsibility for waiting times. Meanwhile cancer patients worry and wait," Mrs Roy said.

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