Private cancer centre opens
‘‘It's a sign the system is open to new investment ... for patients who want a choice.’’
Patients are already lining up for treatment at a new private cancer centre which will offer ‘‘world class’’ care for privately insured people in Wellington and its surrounding regions.
Last week, Prime Minister Bill English cut the ribbon to open the multi-million dollar centre based at Bowen Hospital in Crofton Downs.
The centre is a partnership between Australian cancer care provider Icon Group and New Zealand’s Acurity Health Group, and means Wellington cancer patients will be able to opt for private care in their own city for the first time.
A year ago, the centre was an empty storeroom where the Christmas decorations were kept, Acurity chief executive Ian England said.
‘‘They had a collection of old roof tiles over there, and decorations over here ... so it’s come up beautifully,’’
The build was worth around $2m, but the investment will balloon as advanced technology is introduced for radiation therapy.
‘‘The electronic machine that goes in the [radiation] bunker is about $3m alone, then you’ve got to have concrete lining - so we expect the costs to rapidly move up.’’
The build was initially planned for Wakefield Hospital in Newtown, at an estimated cost of $20m, but building at Bowen saved money by making use of existing infrastructure.
Chemotherapy and other treatments for cancers will be offered this year, with consultations set to begin next week.
The centre will initially treat hundreds of patients every year, with this expected to grow over time.
English said the centre – funded entirely by the private sector – wasn’t a sign the Government was failing in providing adequate cancer care through the public system.
‘‘It’s a sign the system is open to new investment ... for patients who want a choice, and different models of care.’’
In 2012, New Zealand recorded 210 cancer deaths per 100,000 population, below the UK’s rate of 226 but above the Australian and US rates of 193.
There are around 63 new cancer cases registered in New Zealand every day, so new cancer service infrastructure was essential in the face of growing cancer rates, English said.
‘‘Private cancer care has a vital role to play in augmenting the public service in New Zealand by broadening treatment capacity and choice.’’
Radiation oncology will join the current service by the end of 2018.
The latest oncology technology and treatments will be on offer to diagnose and treat all adult cancers. The centre won’t treat children.
Patients from anywhere in New Zealand can line up, but the focus is on providing extra resources to support cancer patients locally.
Costs are worked out case by case, and would depend on what drugs were used, site manager Darien Montgomerie said.
‘‘Some of the newer monoclonal antibodies are under $10,000, but some are a lot cheaper than that. Some of the chemotherapies that have been around for years are very, very cheap.’’
Icon Group medical director Dr Ian Irving said the centre ‘‘offers world class care. This is something that local New Zealand residents deserve.’’