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Cancer treatment by postcode unacceptable

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

16 November 2006

Cancer treatment by postcode unacceptable

Cancer patients facing a wait of more than eight weeks for radiation treatment should be offered treatment in Australia, says National’s Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

“Cancer patients at Capital and Coast DHB are being offered radiation treatment in Australia if they are waiting longer than eight weeks for treatment,” says Mr Ryall.

“Yet we know of at least one patient at MidCentral DHB who was only offered treatment in Australia because she would have otherwise had to wait more than 12 weeks for treatment at Palmerston North.

“Different DHBs operating under different rules is nothing short of the cruellest form of healthcare by postcode. It is unacceptable and urgent action needs to be taken.”

In answer to a question from National MP Dr Jackie Blue in Parliament today, Health Minister Pete Hodgson confirmed that 42 Category C cancer patients are currently being offered treatment in Australia.

“According to Ministry of Health information, cancer patients’ waiting times for radiation therapy have seriously worsened this year, with every likelihood that delays will get even longer,” says Mr Ryall.

“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. The Ministry of Health states that treatment within four weeks is best practice.

“This crisis is only going to get worse while industrial action continues and the Government ignores the problem.

“There should be national policy that will provide certainty to patients and put a stop to this cruel healthcare-by-postcode situation.

“While he’s at it, Health Minister Pete Hodgson should sort out the industrial action he so readily blames for these treatment delays.”

Ends


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