Australian cancer treatment option 'up to DHBs'

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cancer radiotherapy It is up to district health boards whether they offer cancer patients radiotherapy treatment in Australia, Health Minister Pete Hodgson has said.

National health spokesman Tony Ryall today said the list of cancer patients waiting more than eight weeks to receive radiation treatment was the longest it had been since the 2004 cancer treatment "crisis".

Mr Ryall said some were waiting up to three months to begin their radiation treatment.

He questioned Mr Hodgson in Parliament on whether patients facing a wait of more than eight weeks for treatment should get the opportunity to be treated in Australia.

Mr Hodgson said there were six district health boards (DHBs) that provided radiotherapy treatment for cancer.
 
"Each of them is in a different situation."
 
Auckland had already offered patients treatment in Australia, Mr Hodgson said.
 
Wellington's Capital Coast Health might also offer treatment across the Tasman, as could MidCentral DHB, he said.
 
"These are DHB by DHB decisions and I'm satisfied that they're taken with appropriate clinical safety for New Zealanders in mind."
 
Mr Hodgson said it was important to realise that any patients with category A or B cancers were receiving their treatment within what was called "a good practice framework".
 
However, some category C patients in Auckland and possibly over time in Wellington might be offered treatment in Australia because of the waiting time extensions.
 
Category C included patients with breast cancer and prostate cancer, Mr Ryall said.
 
He said patients had been contacted by MidCentral DHB to be offered treatment in Australia. One woman had been offered treatment there between Christmas and New Year, taking her away from her family at that time. Or she could receive radiation treatment in the middle of February "14 weeks away".
 
Mr Hodgson said he was aware the MidCentral DHB was reviewing its situation on a weekly basis and that it was considering offering five patients the option of being treated in Australia.
 

About 260 radiographers from DHBs walked off the job on Friday for a 10-day strike in their quest for pay parity with better paid colleagues from other districts.

source - NewZealand Herald 

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