Cancer linear accelerator needed in Whanga¯ rei
Over the past few years I have been lobbying for a cancer linear accelerator (LINAC) in Whanga¯ rei to provide radiotherapy for cancer patients across Northland.
Priority was given to obtaining funds for an endoscopy suite and cardiac catheterisation laboratory but, with this funding secured, I have stepped up my collaboration with the district health board to purchase a LINAC for our region.
The provision of chemotherapy treatment in Whangarei at the Jim Carney Cancer Treatment Centre was delivered through the generosity and hard work of the community. It is time for the Ministry of Health to finish the job and ensure the people of Northland have access to the full suite of cancer treatments.
The inequality of access to radiotherapy in Northland must also be addressed. Northland has a high rate of cancer deaths, a large rural population and 38 per cent of the population classified as most deprived. As the list below demonstrates, other DHBS with smaller or similar populations have greater accessibility to radiotherapy machines than Northland DHB.
DHB Population Machines Northland 170,000 0 Mid Central 174,000 2 Hawke’s Bay 155,000 1 Taranaki 118,000 1
If regional areas elsewhere in New Zealand with smaller or similar populations, less need and greater accessibility to health services have LINAC units, it is imperative Northland receives the means to purchase and operate a radiotherapy treatment unit in Whanga rei.
Thirty patients a day are currently travelling from Northland to Auckland to receive their treatment. A LINAC unit in Whangarei would increase cancer intervention rates, reduce the financial burden on patients and allow people to be more readily supported by family and friends while they undergo treatment.
Along with the data I have collected demonstrating the need for a LINAC in Whangarei, I would love to hear from you. If you or a family member have had to travel to Auckland for radiotherapy treatment or have been unable to do so and are willing to share your story to help our case to the Minister of Health, please email me at [email protected] parliament.govt.nz or get in contact with me via Facebook.