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Govt must take cancer crisis seriously

Paul Hutchison - National Party Health Spokesman

14 February 2005

Govt must take cancer crisis seriously

The recommendation of senior gynaecologist Professor Ron Jones for an independent inquiry into cancer treatment services in New Zealand should be responded to urgently, says National's Health spokesman, Paul Hutchison.

He is commenting on Professor Jones' concern at the lack of treatment for ovarian cancer patient Rayleen Hewitt, which he described as callous and inhumane.

"For a cancer patient to be made to wait more than 11 weeks for chemotherapy following surgery for ovarian cancer is appalling, and could seriously jeopardise her chances of recovery," says Dr Hutchison.

"New Zealand cancer patients have been shifted off to Australia for radiation therapy over the last five years because services here could not cope. Now it comes to light that some are being made to wait months for urgent treatment, often, as in this case, while in terrible pain," says Dr Hutchison.

"The alarming thing is that after five years of Labour, cancer patients are still left with uncertainty, fear and frustration, not knowing when they might get the treatment they need.

"The Minister of Health must not hide behind Labour's proposed cancer strategy; she must act now and call for an inquiry.

"How many more patients have to suffer unnecessarily while waiting for chemotherapy before Annette King takes this seriously?

"There is a clear case for implementing mandatory best practice guidelines across the country. The introduction of guidelines in cervical cancer has shown they can lead to significant improvements.

"Labour has failed cancer patients and Professor Jones' call for an independent inquiry must be heeded. Anything less is unacceptable."

ENDS

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