Labour to create National Cancer Agency for better care

Andrew Little

Wellington, July 23, 2017

Labour is promising that all New Zealanders will have access to the same level of cancer care no matter where they live in the country.

As someone who has survived cancer I know how this disease can devastate sufferers and their families.

‘Post-Code Lottery’

What really worries me is that cancer care can be a ‘post code’ lottery.

People in Auckland for example have a lower rate of radiation treatment than people in Wellington. People in Northland have a lower rate of radiation treatment than those in Canterbury. That is not right. It is not fair.

National’s $2.3 billion of underfunding is denying Kiwis consistent care.

It is unacceptable that some cancer patients are waiting six months for CT scans. Australians are more likely to survive than those diagnosed with cancer in New Zealand and Australians have better access to cancer drugs.

New Organisation

That is why Labour will create a National Cancer Agency to make sure New Zealanders get consistent cancer care and end the anomalies in treatment.

The Agency will develop a national cancer plan so New Zealanders diagnosed with cancer will have the same access to high quality of cancer care wherever they live.

We will develop targets to reduce death rates and we will end this ‘post code’ lottery by making sure there are standard treatments across all our District Health Boards.

Good Funding

We will provide $10 million to establish the agency and another $10 million will be made available to get the work underway.

The funding will be part of Labour’s reversal of the $2.3 billion dollars of health underfunding over the past eight years.

We can do this because Labour is making health a priority with $8 billion of extra investment over the next four years. We are committed to ensuring New Zealanders get the world class health care they deserve.

Voters face a clear choice this election – better health care, or tax cuts.

Labour’s fresh approach will make a real difference to the 23,000 Kiwis who are diagnosed with cancer every year who deserve consistent treatment no matter where they live.

Following are the highlights of Labour’s Action Plan against Cancer

Make sure all New Zealanders get the same standard of cancer care no matter where in the country they live

Ensure New Zealanders get world-class cancer care through Labour’s $8 billion investment in health

Streamline cancer care in New Zealand by establishing a National Cancer Agency

Every year 23,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with cancer – a number projected to rise 45% by 2030.

Cancer is responsible for a third of all deaths.

National’s $2.3 billion of health underfunding is denying Kiwis access to care and costing lives. People who are diagnosed with cancer in Australia are more likely to survive than those diagnosed in New Zealand and Australians have better access to cancer drugs than we do in New Zealand. Some patients are waiting six months for CT scans because of National’s lack of investment in hospital services.

Cancer care can be a ‘post-code lottery.’ Underfunding of DHBs means the cancer care they offer is inconsistent. The care people get depends on where they live, not on what they need. People in Auckland, for example, have a lower radiation treatment rate than Wellingtonians.

The National Cancer Agency will lift the standard of cancer care by working with DHBs to ensure best practice and making Budget bids with DHBs for more staff and equipment out of Labour’s $8 billion investment in improving the health system.

The Agency will oversee prevention, detection, treatment of cancer, and improving outcomes for survivors. Similar approaches have proven to be effective in the UK and Canada.

The Goals

The National Cancer Agency’s goals will be to (a) • End the ‘post-code lottery,’ by implementing standard treatment pathways for cancer care in all DHBs, and ensuring DHBs have the resources they need to deliver the best level of care (b) Develop a National Cancer Plan and develop targets to reduce death rates (c) Oversee a single national cancer clinical trials network so that patients can access clinical trials no matter where they live (d) Streamline cancer care by bringing together the work of the ten tumor standard working groups, four regional cancer networks, and the cancer screening groups under one organisation (e) Prioritise investment in the most effective technology such as the latest radiation treatments (f) Research and collect data on treatment outcomes to inform best practice.

We will work with cancer experts and frontline professionals to develop the National Cancer Agency’s work programme to achieve these goals.

The National Cancer Agency will ensure all New Zealanders diagnosed with cancer know they will have access to the same high quality level of cancer care wherever they live. Its work will save lives.

The Agency will be allocated $10 million for establishment costs and $10 million will be made available to start their work. The year to year cost will vary as the Agency makes Budget bids for staffing and equipment to improve cancer care in DHBs.

Andrew Little is Leader of Labour Party of New Zealand. The above Statement was issued by him this hour.

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