Government announces new cancer treatment services for regions

Today the Government announced that cancer sufferers in the Hawke's Bay, Taranaki and Northland area will for the first time have local access to radiation treatment.

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They did however announce an upgrade for cancer fighting technology in the regions. Source: 1 NEWS

The announcement comes as part of May’s wellbeing budget, making it easier for patients and families who no longer have to travel to bigger centres.

The Government is funding the replacement of half of all the country's radiation machines and are seeking to purchase 12 Linear Accelerators (LINAC) machines over the next three years.

The replacement LINACs will provide radiation treatment in more regions, ensuring improved treatment and fairer access to cancer care.

"Currently patients from Northland, Hawke's Bay and Taranaki are forced to travel to get the radiation treatment they need. We know others simply don't travel and miss out on treatment altogether," Jacinda Ardern said in a statement today.

"Radiation is an effective form of cancer treatment, and one in two people with cancer would benefit from its use.

"But in New Zealand only one in three are currently accessing these services. That's why we are making the single largest Government capital investment in it."

The Prime Minister also says that in the future, 1200 people each year will be able to access radiation treatment locally rather than travelling long distances.

"Funding for the first five replacement LINACs, which will cost $25 million in total, comes from the $1.7 billion we invested in hospital and health facilities in the wellbeing budget," Health Minister David Clark said.

"The new LINAC machines provide more precise treatment, reducing negative effects such as damage to surrounding tissue, supporting faster recovery time."

It is believed that the new technology can reduce treatment times from as much as six weeks to as little as three days and new LINACs will be installed this year at Auckland, Canterbury, Capital and Coast and MidCentral DHBs.

Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says the new announcement is "underwhelming" and "rushed".

"This will be bitterly disappointing for thousands of cancer sufferers who would have been expecting a lot more today.

"This is little more than business as usual that any government has to do, replacing machines that need replacing.

"While it's good that some patients won’t have to travel for treatment, there is no additional funding for more oncologists and radiographers who will be required to carry out the treatment."