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Urgency needed on cancer waiting lists

Jackie Blue MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

22 February 2006

Urgency needed on cancer waiting lists

Cancer patients are continuing to wait far too long to see specialists for radiation and chemotherapy treatment, says National’s Associate Health spokeswoman, Dr Jackie Blue.

“Patients who are classed as needing urgent or curative radiation treatment appear to be seen in a timely fashion, but I am concerned about the 80 patients who have been waiting four weeks or more for palliative radiation treatment – a group that has been growing in number since 2003.”

Dr Blue says those in the palliative group have often just been told their cancer has spread, and for them to have to wait more than four weeks is, in her experience as a doctor, very stressful.

Dr Blue is also concerned at the difference in waiting times from first assessment between cancer centres:

- Auckland District Health Board Cancer Centre – 21 days.
- Waikato Cancer Centre – 13 days.
- MidCentral District Health Board Cancer Centre – 11 days.
- Capital and Coast Cancer Centre – 5 days.

“These figures, added to an increase in the number needing chemotherapy in regional cancer centres, and a TV1 report that some patients are waiting 4-6 weeks before seeing an oncologist for chemotherapy, paint a very grim picture indeed.

“Though there seems to be hand-wringing general agreement that there is a serious problem, I don’t see any solutions being offered.

“The time for hand-wringing is over. Urgent action is needed.”


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