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Cancer Society is on the ground, not off the planet

The Cancer Society has expressed concern that critical cancer care targets, such as monitoring the time from diagnosis to treatment, do not feature in the 12 new health system indicators in an open letter to Hon Minister Little. The letter details our position and responds to comments that the Cancer Society is ‘off the planet’ and ‘misinformed’.

Lucy Elwood, CEO of Cancer Society of New Zealand says:

“We are not ‘off the planet’, we are on the ground. Around the clock we are assisting those affected by cancer and in our work, we can clearly see that what we know of people’s experiences is not reflected in the new health system indicators. We’re worried this signals that cancer care is not considered a priority.”

“We know that the Government tracks lots of pieces of data about the performance of the public health system and cancer outcomes. But we’re concerned that a cancer treatment indicator is no longer included in the “top table” list of health system indicators, especially as the Government has said these reflect the Government’s priorities and areas where improvement is needed most. Cancer is New Zealand’s biggest killer and needs to be a priority.”

The Cancer Society exists to support all New Zealanders affected by cancer working within communities through services like supportive care nurses, transport to treatment and accommodation.

“We work tirelessly to ensure that the 71 New Zealanders who receive a diagnosis every day in Aotearoa can turn to us for support during one of the most difficult times of their lives.”

“While we certainly acknowledge that much progress has been made, for example the establishment of Te Aho o Te Kahu, the Cancer Control Agency and a national cancer plan, we are acutely aware there is much that we can improve to deliver better outcomes.”

“This is also not only an anecdotal assessment – cancer is New Zealand’s biggest killer. New Zealand is at or near the bottom of comparable countries for many cancer outcomes.” [i]

“Cancer care must remain a priority within the new health system.”

“As the Cancer Society, it is our responsibility to unashamedly be the voice of those we support and advocate for world class cancer care for all New Zealanders.”

[i] New Zealand Cancer Registry, International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP)

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