Cancer group concerned new hospital facility not complete


Royal Darwin hospital The Cancer Council says the long awaited cancer treatment facility for the Royal Darwin Hospital will not be a fully equipped oncology unit.

In 2001, Labor promised to build an oncology unit if it won power.

But the project stalled until the Commonwealth agreed to contribute $13 million earlier this year.

Former health minister Peter Toyne promised construction would begin in 2007.

But the council's Helen Smith says while tenders are about to go out, the planned facility is not a true oncology unit.

"It's a radio therapy unit that's being promised to us - not an oncology unit," she said.

"An oncology unit should encompass more than just radiotherapy, it should have a a facility where we can administer chemotherapy.

"It should have the back up of a laboratory area and in time one would hope that it may even have facilities to have inpatients in that area."

But the Territory's Health Department says patients getting chemotherapy will be treated in another part of the hospital.

Assistant secretary of acute care, Peter Campos, says once the unit is finished only about 10 in 400 patients will need to travel interstate for treatment.

"Until we actually get the respondents to the tenders we won't know specifically which ones will be outside the range," he said.

"But the bulk of treatments that are available under radiation oncology should will be available here."

The Health Department says the radiation oncology unit will be operational in 2009.

source - ABC 


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