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Lymphoedema sufferers deserve better

Annette King
Health Spokesperson

4 April 2014

Lymphoedema sufferers deserve better

Treatment and services for those suffering from Lymphoedema are inconsistent, inequitable and depend on where you live in New Zealand, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King has told the opening of the 10th Australasian Lymphology Association Conference in Auckland today.

Lymphoedema is a condition arising from damaged or incorrectly formed lymphatic vessels or nodes. The most common form comes as a result of some cancer treatments following radiotherapy, particularly for breast cancer.

“There is growing concern from those requiring lymphoedema services that there is no nationally consistent approach or priority given to their health needs.

“Late last year I undertook an Official information Act request to all DHBs asking what lymphoedema care is provided to women who have undergone mastectomy. The results are concerning. Services vary widely, there is no consistency of access to what and how services are provided.

“Basic services such as compression garments, physio treatment, education and self-management training are available in all DHBs but are not provided in a consistent or equitable way.

“There has been improvements in cancer treatment following the establishment of the independent Cancer Control Council, the release of the cancer control strategy and action plan, increased funding and investment in training of key health professionals such as radiation therapists under the previous Labour Government. However, there must now be improvements in lymphoedema services.

“Equity of access to health services is a government responsibility. Health Minister Tony Ryall is derelict in his duty of responsibility to these patients,” Annette King says.

ENDS

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