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Tumours must be bigger, more disfiguring

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

15 June 2006

Tumours must be bigger, more disfiguring before treatment

Skin cancer patients throughout New Zealand must wait for their tumours to get bigger and more disfiguring before they will get treatment, says National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

“Government-ordered waiting list culls are pushing many skin cancer sufferers off waiting lists.

“This will only worsen with the junior doctors’ strike.”

Plastic Surgeons Association president Colin Calcinai is reported as confirming that treatment thresholds for skin cancer are increasing. He says that only the most serious skin cancer patients are being treated.

“New Zealand has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world. The system won’t treat these patients early, but will later on when their conditions are much worse and costs are far higher,” says Mr Ryall.

“National understands that in Auckland only the worst skin cancer patients are dealt with. Children with congenital birth defects – like disfiguring moles and port wine stain birthmarks – are being turned away.

“In the Hutt Valley, skin cancer patients have been dumped wholesale from waiting lists.

“In Canterbury, patients wait five months to see a specialist and a further three months until their worsening tumours are surgically removed.

"This policy is dangerous, callous and financial nonsense. It makes good financial sense to treat skin cancers earlier when they are less serious, rather than wait until they are much worse and more expensive. The delays can also be dangerous. It's false economy to dump such patients.

“Who is next for the cull under Labour?

“National says we could get more elective services through smart use of the private sector, greater involvement of specialists in decision-making, cuts to bureaucracy, and moving resources into services through a greater focus on value for money.”

ENDS

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