Boost for cancer survival prospects with over $100 million for new services

Media Release -16 April 2010

Cancer Council NSW has applauded the Rudd Government’s move to address a shortfall in radiotherapy services that has put lives at risk across NSW.

Throughout this week, the Federal Government has announced more than $100 million will be pumped into new cancer services across regional NSW to boost much needed infrastructure and equipment upgrades.

Local patients will benefit from new radiotherapy machines, extra accommodation, and other vital medical equipment across the Hunter, Far North Coast, and the Central Coast.   Further announcements are expected to be made in Illawarra and the South Coast later today.

“This funding is a welcome shot in the arm for long under resourced cancer services in NSW regional areas,” Dr Andrew Penman, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Council NSW said.

“Years of underfunding have led to a system full of holes where about a third of all patients have missed out on radiotherapy who need it.   We estimate that has resulted in about 5,000 lives being put at risk each year.

“However, locating better cancer services in regional areas is a solid step towards removing barriers faced by regional patients.   Cancer Council research shows many are forced to travel long distances, pay for costly accommodation, and live away from loved ones for several weeks during one of the most stressful periods of their lives.

“It’s an issue that Cancer Council NSW has long lobbied for, and we look forward to working with the relevant agencies to ensure that the new services are up and running as soon as possible.”

-Ends-

Media contact:

Luke Alexander (02) 9334 1878 / 0413 886 578

Notes to editors

The funding announced this week forms part of a $560 million Rudd Government commitment to establish regional cancer centres so that Australians can get cancer care closer to home and their community. The following funding has been announced for NSW this week:

  • Hunter: 28.6 million for the establishment of a new Regional Cancer Centre to be build on the grounds of Tamworth Hospital (backed with $10 million from the NSW Government), which will include one radiotherapy machine and two radiotherapy bunkers at Tamworth, an additional six chemotherapy chairs (four at Tamworth and two at Armidale), major diagnostic equipment, including a new computed tomography (CT) scanner at Tamworth, and 14 additional accommodation places for rural and regional patients and their carers, based at the Tamworth Hospital campus.
  • Far North Coast: $9.1 million for new equipment and accommodation at Lismore Base Hospital ($2.6 million will go to fund accommodation units and $6.5 million will be spent on new equipment).
  • Central Coast: $28.6 million to build a new Regional Cancer Care Centre at Gosford Hospital supported with an additional $10 million from the NSW Government.   The Centre will provide comprehensive cancer support services, including screening, treatment and palliative care.
  • South Coast: $34 million centre includes a radiotherapy machine, two radiotherapy bunkers and eight additional chemotherapy chairs.   New facilities include a CT scanner and 10-room patient and carer accommodation.   It is estimated the facilities will allow for an extra 414 radiotherapy patients to access treatment each year.
  • Mid North Coast:   $4.8 million for a new linear accelerator (radiotherapy machine) at Port Macquarie Hospital, and $5.8million for the installation of a new magnetic resonance imaging scanner or MRI at the North Coast Cancer Centre at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus.

These announcements are part of a $17.1 million allocation to the North Coast Cancer Institute Regional Cancer Service, which will bring new equipment and facilities to the service’s Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Lismore campuses.