Tony Ryall announced:
“We inherited cancer services which were failing New Zealanders. Patients were waiting months for treatment and some had to travel to Australia because of lengthy delays here. Thankfully those days are over – all patients now receive radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment within four weeks of being ready to treat.
“We will build on our successful plan and introduce a new national health target which will ensure cancer patients receive their diagnostic tests, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy even faster.
“If your GP suspects you have cancer, you should see a cancer specialist within two weeks. Diagnostic tests and clinical investigations will be completed in a faster, more streamlined way and our goal is for patients to receive their first cancer treatment within a maximum 62 days of their original GP’s referral.
“The new target is much broader than the current cancer health target, which focuses on how long patients wait to start their chemotherapy and radiotherapy when ready to treat. The current cancer target didn’t include surgery, which is often the first treatment step for patients, or the time patients wait to see a cancer specialist and have tests done.
“The maximum 62 days is an international gold standard for cancer treatment. Currently in New Zealand around 60-65 per cent of patients receive their first cancer treatment within this time.
“The new target will be for 90 per cent of patients to receive their first treatment within a maximum 62 days of seeing their GP by June 2017.
This is stuff that matters.
Cancer waiting times were abysmal under the last Government. Not on purpose, but because the health system had little clear focus. With something like 100 different health targets, it was a mess.
Ryall has managed to focus the health system on a few achievable but very important targets such as faster treatment for cancer, more immunisations, quicker A& visits, more elective surgery, better quit smoking help, and more health checkups. And the great thing is that doctors and nurses and health managers have shown an ability to meet, and sometimes exceed, these targets when they are have a clear focus.
This stuff literally saves lives.