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New Linear Accelerator For Northern Regional Cancer Centre

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
New Linear Accelerator For Northern Regional Cancer Centre

We are here today to open the Northern Regional Cancer Centre's new linear accelerator.

It's my pleasure to launch this sixth linear accelerator for Auckland Public Hospital.

This machine replaces an old (and sometimes unreliable) linear accelerator, and is the culmination of a lot of work and investment. It's also the foundation of a lot of work yet to come.

Cancer is one of our biggest killers - and it is one of the biggest worries people have about their health and, later, treatment. It's one of the biggest worries families have for their loved ones.

That's why faster cancer treatment is one of the Government's Six Health Targets; representing the importance we - and you - place on ensuring patients can start their radiation treatment as soon as possible.

There is good evidence that delays in starting cancer treatment can reduce the chances of controlling cancer and increase the relapse rate.

At the moment, the target is that everyone who needs radiation treatment will have it within six weeks of being referred by their specialist.

From January, that target will be reduced to four weeks.

This is a broadly agreed international best practice standard -particularly in Great Britain, Canada and Australia.

Four weeks is an overarching guideline to be achieved that recognises different cancers have varying recommended timeframes for treatment.

But having four weeks as the target covers those variations and ensures all people can obtain treatment in an appropriate time frame.

If a centre meets the four week target, patients and clinicians can be assured people are getting their cancer treatment within a clinically appropriate and safe timeframe.

There is good evidence that the more you slip past four weeks, the less likely it is that all people with cancer will get timely treatment.

Four weeks is going to be a challenge.

It was only a couple of years ago that patients were routinely waiting 12-13 weeks to begin their treatment; or were being sent to Australia because New Zealand could not cope.

Since mid-March, the Northern Regional Cancer Centre has met the six-week health target, every week. In fact, over the last few months, it's been routine for between 80%-90% of your patients to be treated within four weeks.

Congratulations to the team here at the Northern Regional Cancer Centre.

You've achieved this through careful planning, thoughtful use of the private sector, and hard work from doctors, radiation therapists, physicists and nurses.

Thank you for what you're doing here.

It also helps that the number of private and public linear accelerators in Auckland has grown from 5 to 9 in the past two years. This machine is the sixth in the public health service, and there are three Linacs at ARO Auckland Radiation Oncology (a joint venture between MercyAscot and Southern Cross Hospitals).

You're showing what can happen if we all work together to help cancer patients. We should be making smart use of all those machines to help patients with cancer to lead better lives.

To help the Northern Cancer Centre towards the four week target, the Government recently authorised over $300,000 of extra funding to go towards improving your patient management system. This is anticipated to open up five extra treatment slots per day here in Auckland.

The Government is attacking cancer on a number of fronts beyond radiation treatment - including prevention.

For example, we are investing up to $32 million over five years in a bowel cancer screening programme.

We have received four proposals and we will announce the successful demonstration site shortly.

Be assured that all your hard work is appreciated - by New Zealanders and by the Government.

Congratulations on your new liner accelerator.

Congratulations on the better and sooner treatment you are providing cancer patients.

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