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Cancer treatment delays increasing

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

14 November 2006

Cancer treatment delays increasing

Cancer patients are facing longer and longer delays to begin radiation treatment, according to figures released by the National Party.

National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall, is calling on hospitals to offer more cancer patients treatment in Australia if they cannot treat them quickly enough here.

According to Ministry of Health information compiled by the National Party, cancer patients’ waiting times for radiation therapy have seriously worsened this year, with every likelihood that delays will get even longer.

“The number of patients waiting more than eight weeks to begin radiation treatment is now at its highest level since the 2004 cancer treatment crisis. And the proportion of all cancer patients now waiting more than eight weeks is growing dramatically too,” says Mr Ryall.

“Cancer patients will face even greater delays as industrial action continues and the Government ignores the problem. We've spoken with one patient in the Lower North Island who was told this week she would start radiation treatment in mid-February – that’s 14 weeks away.

“Some patients are resorting to surgery rather than face such long, uncertain and worrying delays.

“More and more cancer patients are facing this situation. All patients facing these unacceptable delays should have the option of going to Australia. The offer should be made now to allow patients to plan for Christmas.

“Health Minister Pete Hodgson should also be sorting out the industrial action he so readily blames for these delays.”

Mr Ryall has released a table of Ministry of Health information which shows a big increase in cancer patients facing radiation delays of more than eight weeks, both in raw numbers and as a proportion of total patients wanting radiation treatment.


Attached: Table – National Category C Waiting Times. Note: Category C includes patients with breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Oncology Waiting Times
National Category C Waiting Times

Month / Category C Waiting Times > 8 Weeks / Category C Waiting Total / Proportion
Mar-04 59 530 11.13%
Apr-04 43 418 10.29%
May-04 43 462 9.31%
Jun-04 30 402 7.46%
Jul-04 22 136 16.18%
Aug-04 22 136 16.18%
Sep-04 38 437 8.70%
Oct-04 22 136 16.18%
Nov-04 21 458 4.59%
Dec-04 37 454 8.15%
Jan-05 22 400 5.50%
Feb-05 13 485 2.68%
Mar-05 6 480 1.25%
Apr-05 6 465 1.29%
May-05 10 501 2.00%
Jun-05 11 502 2.19%
Jul-05 6 435 1.38%
Aug-05 7 451 1.55%
Sep-05 6 503 1.19%
Oct-05 10 431 2.32%
Nov-05 5 409 1.22%
Dec-05 3 470 0.64%
Jan-06 22 136 16.18%
Feb-06 21 460 4.57%
Mar-06 12 478 2.51%
Apr-06 17 405 4.20%
May-06 20 496 4.03%
Jun-06 24 380 6.32%
Jul-06 37 425 8.71%
Aug-06 48 486 9.88%

Source: Cancer Control Waiting Times Data - MOH website
Category C includes patients with breast cancer and prostate cancer.

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