Can­cer hub could cost mil­lions more

Albany Advertiser - - NEWS - Toby Hussey

A mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar can­cer treat­ment cen­tre in Al­bany is not planned to be op­er­a­tional by mid-2019, de­spite re­peated claims from O’Connor MP Rick Wil­son and other lo­cal me­dia.

Twice this month other me­dia have claimed Al­bany Health Cam­pus could have its own ra­dio­ther­apy unit by June next year, af­ter re­port­ing a $6.6 mil­lion Com­mon­wealth grant for treat­ment ma­chin­ery in Al­bany.

Once the fa­cil­ity is op­er­a­tional can­cer suf­fer­ers will no longer need to travel 500km to Perth.

How­ever, there is no in­di­ca­tion the fa­cil­ity will be op­er­a­tional by mid-2019, with the WA Health Min­is­ter and the WA Coun­try Health Ser­vice say­ing de­vel­op­ing a case for the build­ing could be a lengthy process.

While money has been se­cured for the ma­chin­ery, a fa­cil­ity to house it will bring a sub­stan­tial ex­tra cost given a pur­pose-built, lead-lined bunker is needed to con­tain ra­di­a­tion given off dur­ing op­er­a­tion.

The cost to build such a fa­cil­ity with two lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tors in Dar­win in 2006 was es­ti­mated at about $18 mil­lion.

While WA Health Min­is­ter Roger Cook wel­comed Com­mon­wealth fund­ing, he said “more con­sid­er­a­tion needs to be given to the project” and he was in dis­cus­sions with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment and WA Coun­try Health Ser­vice.

“The spe­cialised ‘bunker’ re­quired to house the ma­chin­ery is likely to in­volve a ten­der process,” he said.

WA Coun­try Health Ser­vice re­gional di­rec­tor (Great South­ern) David Naughton said a busi­ness case would also be needed.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for O’Connor Rick Wil­son, who an­nounced the grant, said he had not spo­ken to the WA Department of Health, WA Coun­try Health Ser­vice or the Health Min­is­ter about the June op­er­a­tion date.

“I wrote to the Min­is­ter for Health, Roger Cook, on Au­gust 9 re­quest­ing the State Gov­ern­ment co-op­er­ate to ex­pe­dite the in­stal­la­tion of this life-sav­ing equip­ment,” he said. “I have yet to re­ceive any re­sponse from the min­is­ter, or any com­mu­ni­ca­tions from the State Health Department or WA Coun­try Health Ser­vices.”

Al­bany MP Peter Wat­son wel­comed the fund­ing.

“I look for­ward to the State and Com­mon­wealth gov­ern­ments work­ing to­gether to build the fa­cil­ity need to house the ra­dio­ther­apy ma­chine,” he said.

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