New linear accelerator for the south will make a difference
BCAC is pleased a new linear accelerator is in the wings for the Southern DHB and believes will make a difference for cancer patients.
Health Minister, Tony Ryall, signed off on the $6.3 million replacement machine for the southern DHB recently. It will be the country's ninth new linear accelerator in the past two years.
A linear accelerator delivers a uniform dose of x-ray to a tumour. The x-rays can destroy the cancer cells while sparing surrounding tissue.
Mr Ryall says, "We are expecting to see more need for radiation treatment over the next few years as the population ages. This new machine for Southern DHB replaces a 17 year old linear accelerator which was only capable of operating at half speed.
"Shorter waits for cancer radiation treatment is one of the government's six health targets. It started as a maximum of six weeks and the target is now four weeks.
"Previously some patients waited up to 15 weeks. It was not unusual to hear of many patients being sent to Australia for treatment, with all the additional pressure that entailed.
"New Zealand’s six regional cancer centres are sharing their stories on how they have shortened radiation treatment waiting times to world standards in a new booklet. This will help improve services for patients even further.
Some of the successes in reducing wait times in the new booklet include:
- Southern DHB doubling the number of new patients starting treatment by streamlining booking processes and designing treatment plans
- Capital and Coast’s new equipment which delivers advanced prostate cancer treatment with less side effects for Canterbury DHB’s new software that means treatment teams are working from the same, more timely treatment information
- ‘Project 28 days’ that cut radiotherapy wait times at Auckland DHB from more than six weeks at the start of 2010 to four weeks by November 2010.
- Three new sophisticated treatment planning computers at MidCentral, reducing treatment planning times from 3 weeks to 10 days.
- Waikato DHB’s focus on continuous improvement, rejigging staff hours to maximize the use of the machines
"Each year more than 19,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with cancer and about half of them need radiotherapy. Being able to provide fast effective treatment for them is a mark of how good our health system is," Mr Ryall says.