Cancer lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tor needed in Whanga¯ rei

Whangarei Report - - OPINION - By Dr SHANE RETI, Whanga¯ rei MP

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.

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