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Cancer Treatment Delays Shameful

Media Release

21 June 2006

Cancer Treatment Delays Shameful

Cancer sufferers in this country appear to have almost as much to fear from the effects of bureaucracy as they do from the disease itself says New Zealand First’s health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“Wellington’s low dose brachytherapy machine was scrapped in September last year. On 9 May, in reply to a written question the Minister of Health said that the service would recommence when Capital and Coast District Health Board received confirmation of the agreement of all district health boards to fund high dose rate brachytherapy and agreed a business case for its introduction.

“Seemingly a fairly straightforward process and one which should have been expedited to ensure that the welfare of cancer patients was paramount at a time in their lives when the last thing they need is the stress of having to travel to obtain treatment.

“However that is not taking into account the almost unbelievable ability of the health bureaucracy to avoid decision making.

“The Health Ministry’s grandly titled Cancer Control Principal Adviser is reported as saying that the service has been delayed because it had taken time for the dhbs which would be sending patients to the service to agree how it would be funded and supported. Equally gob smacking is the statement by the chief operating officer of Capital and Coast that a group is being set up to make a plan for buying, locating and running the equipment.

“It is a cause for shame for all those involved that they are still dithering about providing equipment to treat people whose lives are at stake. It is also unbelievable that the Minister can off load responsibility for this sort of debacle and get away with it. We like to think of ourselves as a first world country but we clearly have a way to go yet,” said Mrs Stewart.


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