First radiotherapy centre opens
New Zealand’s first private radiotherapy centre has opened in Epsom.
Auckland Radiation Oncology, a joint venture between MercyAscot and Southern Cross Hospitals, will initially treat between 450 and 500 people a year, eventually rising to 750 to 800.
Chairman Dr Andrew Wong says initial interest in the centre has been strong, but they plan to build up to capacity slowly to avoid any teething problems.
The unit will mainly provide treatment for breast and prostate cancer.
Two linear accelerators, which provide radiation therapy, have been bought and space for another two has been set aside depending on demand.
The country’s biggest health insurer Southern Cross Healthcare, which has 840,000 members, has agreed to cover radiotherapy in most of its policies. No agreement has been reached on whether the unit will treat public patients.
But Auckland District Health Board general manager of clinical services Fionnagh Dougan says that could happen if waiting lists get too long.
In recent weeks the health board has sent patients needing radiotherapy to Waikato and Sydney due to an influx of patients and staff shortages.