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Latest Radiation Oncology Treatment Waiting Times

More cancer patients in Waikato and Canterbury are starting their cancer treatment on time, according to Ministry of Health figures released today.

The figures show 76 people in Waikato and 82 people in Canterbury received treatment in less than four weeks.

Clinical services strategy manager Dr Andrew Holmes said it was encouraging to see fewer people waiting less than four weeks for treatment.

"The vast majority of patients in New Zealand do receive their treatment within the appropriate time and we are working to ensure the trend in reduction of waiting times continues."

"We empathise with patients and their families whose treatment is currently outside the minimum standards. The six DHBs with cancer treatment centres are working with the Ministry of Health on short term measures to address this situation.

As of 31 August, 218 patients on the radiation treatment waiting list throughout New Zealand were waiting longer than four weeks for treatment after the decision to treat. This is an improvement on July figures which show there were 285 patients waiting longer than four weeks. The biggest improvements were recorded in Palmerston North and Auckland.

In Palmerston North in July 71 patients waited longer than four weeks. That dropped to 48 in August. In Auckland in July 102 patients waited longer than four weeks. That dropped to 61 in August.

Dr Holmes said the problem of a worldwide shortage of experienced radiation therapists would continue for some time.

"The way we manage this matter requires measures in addition to the extra training and recruitment of more radiation therapists."

The six DHBs with cancer treatment centres are cooperating to implement short term measures such as:

sharing of staff and patients within New Zealand reducing the length of an individual's course of radiation treatment without reducing the effectiveness of the treatment as is already being done at Auckland District Health Board and centres in Canada and the United Kingdom seeking assistance from Australia either by staff coming to New Zealand or patients going to Australia seeking staff loans from other countries redesigning support for radiation therapists so they can oversee more patient treatments both in terms of the number of patients treated per hour and the number of hours worked

"Auckland District Health Board has advised us that it had an overseas recruitment drive and will have a full complement of staff by February 2002. It also expected to have several more trained staff start over next two months."

ENDS


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