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PET Scanning Possible In Public Health System

Media Release

29 April 2008

PET Scanning Possible In Public Health System

Thanks to private enterprise up-to-date treatment is now available to cancer patients in Wellington and with a minimum of Government initiative it could be available in the public health sector says New Zealand First health spokesperson Barbara Stewart.

“Pacific Radiology’s new PET/CT scanner is open for business but unfortunately last year’s decision by DHB chief executives not to invest in scanners means that patients still need health insurance, a forward thinking district health board or personal funds to access it.

“PET scanning is the gold standard for the detection and monitoring of cancer and this situation is nothing short of criminal. Other uses include the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and the assessment of coronary artery disease. You certainly get your money’s worth from this medical technology.

“Back in the health bureaucracy the CEOs of the DHBs cannot even decide whether their boards should pay for patients to have private scans until the necessary paperwork has been generated.

“However the company that makes the radioactive isotope used in scanning now proposes to set up a $5 million facility in Wellington to make the isotope here rather than flying it from Melbourne.

“If that happens half of the cost of setting up this technology could be met privately and the Government could buy scanners to take advantage of this windfall. The time for bureaucratic dithering is past – let’s see some action,” said Mrs Stewart.


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