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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 7 August 2008) . . Page.. 3041 ..

40 patients will have treatment at the National Capital Private Hospital, although a number have indicated that they would prefer to have treatment at Zita Mary oncology clinic at Calvary public hospital in Bruce. Zita Mary has the capacity to accommodate these patients. ACT Health will continue to monitor this issue. The government will be working to ensure that no patient misses out on vital care.

Last week I was able to open the new linear accelerator facility at the Canberra Hospital site. This facility was delivered at just under a $30 million budget. What it has allowed is that two new radiation bunkers have been built along the site of the Capital Region Cancer Service and have been able to accommodate the third linear accelerator. In years to come, at the latest by 2012, a fourth linear accelerator machine can be put in place.

All ACT Health medical oncology waiting times are within appropriate clinical standards, so effectively there is no waiting time for urgent chemotherapy or medical oncology. If needed, ACT Health can accommodate all the people requiring medical oncology who cannot be managed by National Capital Private following the closure of John James cancer clinic.

I should add that, in the absence of any other long-term planning in health care from any other of our political opponents as we lead up to this election campaign, many members are aware of the government’s commitment around our $1 billion investment in our health system to ensure that we are ready and able to deal with the demands of our ageing population. Of course, a cancer centre is a key part of that infrastructure program. We have done the work to make sure that the public system in the ACT is in really good shape to treat cancer sufferers in the ACT and also more broadly to meet our responsibilities to residents of our surrounding region.

I am very sorry for the distress that this closure may cause those patients and their families, but I am confident from the advice that I have been given that their treatment will not be adversely affected.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Porter?

MS PORTER: Minister, what future treatment options are available for cancer sufferers in the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: Thank you, Ms Porter. As I mentioned earlier, the government has a plan for a new $1 billion health infrastructure program. It is being designed to serve the needs of Canberra residents and our regional neighbours now and into the future. Included in this program of renewal is the plan to establish a cancer centre of excellence. Patients requiring treatment for varying types of cancer will have access to treatment and there will be the ability to provide multidisciplinary treatment approaches all in one location. We are not able to provide this now.

This cancer centre of excellence will ensure that we have adequate capacity to meet future service demand and make sure that we are able to continue to offer high quality services. The Capital Region Cancer Service provides cancer services to a population of approximately 600,000 people—320,000 in metropolitan ACT and approximately 280,000 in south-east New South Wales.

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