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Annette in wonderland over cancer patients


Annette in wonderland over cancer patients

The Health Minister's denials that patients are waiting longer than 12 weeks for radiation treatment, when the clinical guideline is four weeks, unfortunately won't make the problem go away, says National Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott.

Several patients are opting to go to Australia for treatment because many in Wellington are waiting more than three months for postoperative radiation treatment.

"These delays are unacceptable when a new international study shows that patients waiting months for radiotherapy have significantly higher recurrence rates. The Journal of Clinical Oncology metanalysis of 46 studies found much higher breast cancer recurrence rates within five years, in those who received radiation treatment more than eight weeks after surgery.

"The Minister cannot ignore these statistics and pretend that women are not waiting far too long in Wellington and Christchurch.

"Annette King severely criticised the Government in 1998 for sending patients to Australia for radiation treatment to assist New Zealand through a crisis. Today she has swung from those criticisms of the temporary use of radiation treatment in Australia, to relying on it for a long-term solution.

"It costs $16,000 per patient for this treatment when we should be able to provide these services here through private-public partnerships. Sending patients to Australia is a temporary stopgap but not all patients can go, which leaves many women waiting weeks and months for treatment. "The Minister has failed in her promises to reduce cancer waiting times. She should listen to patients like Marlborough woman Margaret Morice, who are desperate for treatment but so fed up with waiting that they are going public, rather than being written off and bullied by this Minister," Dr Scott said.

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