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Cancer Society - Enquiry Into Radiation Treatment

MEDIA RELEASE

Tuesday 4 December

Cancer Society Calls For Public Enquiry Into Radiation Treatment Crisis

Dr Peter Dady, Medical Director of the Cancer Society of New Zealand, has called for some form of public enquiry into the worsening radiation treatment crisis.

Dr Dady says that the impending strike by radiation therapists in Auckland, Hamilton and Palmerston North is the latest incident in a situation that has been going on for several years. The strike will make things even worse for cancer patients and is not supported by the Cancer Society, he says. However, it is recognised that the radiation therapists feel that they do not have any other options.

“Over several years, various ‘solutions’ to the loss of radiation therapists have been tried and have failed,” Dr Dady says. “Sending patients to Australia for treatment will do little, if anything, to shorten waiting times and is costly. The only effective solution to the problem is to offer radiation therapists adequate pay and conditions to stay in New Zealand or to return if they have been overseas.”

He says that Government, the Ministry, and hospital boards have all denied responsibility for the crisis, claiming that there is nothing more that they can do.

“If nothing more is done radiotherapy waiting times will increase. In 1999 a similar situation occurred in Ontario, Canada and in response to public concerns the Provisional Auditor reviewed the provision of radiation treatment services and pay rates improved.

“Unless something is done, thousands of New Zealanders (and their families) will face unacceptably long waiting time for radiotherapy. Action is long overdue and it seems as if the only way to get it will be through some form of public enquiry to establish who has the responsibility to restore radiation treatment in New Zealand to an acceptable standard,” Dr Dady says.

ENDS

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