Stuff that matters – cancer treatment

August 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tony Ryall announced:

If your doctor suspects you have , the Government will ensure you see a specialist and receive treatment faster than ever before. …

“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 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.

24 Responses to “Stuff that matters – cancer treatment”

  1. polemic (474 comments) says:

    Yes More critical policy that looks after all Kiwi’s 😀

    The time when you need help like cancer is a critical form of Govt and the current gains in core Govt service such as Healthcare are very notable.

    You’d never get this out of the illustrious HMNZS Co-Boat

    for a start they wouldnt even know which way to go then they would run off and consult with the union who would just want to pay people and increase bureaucrats….. :roll:

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  2. Zapper (1,238 comments) says:

    Having recently lost someone to this horrible disease, and seeing up close just how horrible it is, this is great news.

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  3. RRM (12,553 comments) says:


    Stuff actually worth voting for.

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  4. radvad (956 comments) says:

    Working for New Zealand

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  5. radvad (956 comments) says:

    “You’d never get this out of the illustrious HMNZS Co-Boat
    For a start they wouldnt even know which way to go then they would run off and consult with the union who would just want to pay people and increase bureaucrats….. ”

    Or put in place targets for more “cultural awareness”.

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  6. Nigel Kearney (1,986 comments) says:

    This is good but may be a case of what gets measured gets done. Will there be any big announcement on the targets that have been abandoned to enable focus on this one?

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  7. Ross12 (2,506 comments) says:

    Ryall has done a great job with the Health sector. He will be missed in Govt.

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  8. nasska (16,748 comments) says:

    Tony Ryall has been possibly the greatest asset this government has had. He has never sought the lime light but has delivered the goods.

    He’ll be a hard act to follow.

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  9. Don the Kiwi (2,634 comments) says:

    I completely agree with Tony Ryall.

    Four months ago, my daughter – 37, happily married, 2 beautiful daughters – was playing indoor basketball and got a bang on her left breast. It was sore for a few days, then gradually the pain went away. Two weeks later she noticed the pain coming back – almost unnoticeable at first, but getting stronger as the weeks went by. After several weeks, it became painful, and she felt her breast where the pain was. There was a lump almost the size of a golf ball.

    She went straight to her doctor, and was booked to get biopsies taken within two days. Three days later, pathology confirmed a very aggressive form of breast cancer. One week later she had the meeting with the surgeon – a specialist in breast cancer and reconstruction – who happened also to be a good friend of my second son. Two weeks later she was into hospital and had the breast removed.

    She was saying,” I just want to get rid of this shitty titty !” 🙂 she has a good sense of humour. She had it removed three weeks ago yesterday – she was home within three days, and is recovering well. She starts chemo next week and will be all finished before Christmas – then possibly radiotherapy.

    This I think is brilliant. Only 5 years ago, she would have had to wait up to six months, and with the cancer it was, could well be close to her deathbed. I know of some other cases in the past few months that have recieved the same treatment, and this is in the Public Hospital – not private insurance.

    What was a bit of a grin also, is that the surgeon, on her first visit back, inspected her body – stomach, back etc. to get some body fat with which to do the breast construction. He couldn’t find any – or certainly enough to use. My daughter is very fit and in excellent shape. Even in her early teens she was very good at sports – she had abs as good as my two sons, and has always had, for a woman, prominent biceps and other muscles; even after having her babies, within six months she had abs back. Good girl, that daughter of mine 🙂

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  10. Viking2 (14,365 comments) says:

    On the smoking bit. A number of my women staff decided they would all stop smoking. Good objective so they called in the local Maori who is appointed to run this program and help them. He duly arrived with all the bullshit and sent to them hundreds of dollars of stuff. they started and were supposed to have his support.
    Well that failed the moment Internet Mana came along.
    He is now a presumably paid member of some Dept. filling in his time putting his face out for election. Completely abandoning the task he already had.

    His first name is Patrick and it would be good if someone would ask who is paying him.

    Not able to do this myself.

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  11. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    If they are able to do this, why haven’t they done it before now – during the previous six years.

    How many people have died because they didn’t prioritise this, until it was election year?

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  12. Richard (1,226 comments) says:

    The Health sector used to be one of the worst portfolio’s any minister would want. They had to deal with militant nurses Unions, grumpy junior doctors and specialists and surgeons who didn’t seem to understand there was not unlimited funds available and the never ending issue of elective surgery Waiting Lists. Amazing how he has managed to turn that around and just generally get stuff done.

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  13. freemark (938 comments) says:

    Not only are you wilfully ignorant Judith, you are quite nasty as well. Imagine politicising a disease that kills 1000’s.

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  14. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ freemark (510 comments) says:
    August 29th, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Imagine politicising the death of 29 miners in a mine! There is no better reason to politicise something, than the occurrence and effect of human tragedy. Because tragedy occurs with great regularity, it is important to know that the government, any government is able to support and provide assistance in such times, in short – has our backs should we be struck with cancer or whatever. More so in a country where the state has been playing mother for decades, so people no longer believe they need to provide their own solutions.

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  15. freemark (938 comments) says:

    @ Judith
    Isn’t it you politicising those miner deaths as well?
    How the fuck is an individual going to provide their own solution for cancer which is non-lifestyle/diet/habit related?
    I know it might make you choke to admit it, but Ryall & the Nats have done a fantastic job with health.
    FFS woman.

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  16. peterwn (4,283 comments) says:

    Nigel – what targets may have been abandoned? Sure, some things were cut, but they were pretty useless. As far as I could see, health under Labour was politically driven, not health driven, and Annette King wants to revert to this. And there are things costing big money with limited benefit and when the Government tries to rationalise these, those with vested interests squeal like stuck pigs. For example the Problem Gambling Foundation staffers will be hoping foe a Labour government to save their jobs.

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  17. Fisiani (1,185 comments) says:

    On the other hand imagine what would happen if a government gave free GP visits to all wealthy and super wealthy old people. Would that reduce cancer deaths? No! Would that be the best use of tax payers money? Absolutely no!
    Here we see the difference.
    National will spend money to help the sick.
    Labour will spend money to bribe their votes.

    On the West Coast National will support jobs and profits.
    The Greens/Labour mob will deny jobs and cheer for the worms.

    In Education National will follow the research and improve teacher quality to help children learn.
    Labour will find another 2000 teachers (from where? to go into 2,500 schools to win parent’s votes.

    This policy of working for New Zealand sums up National and that’s why we need to start Party voting National from Wednesday 3rd September when advance polls open

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  18. altiora (398 comments) says:

    @ Judith: you’re quickly coming across as a mean-spirited, bitter and nasty. Must every piece of news be spun into you as an attack on the government? Why don’t you ask why this wasn’t achieved under the previous Labour government?

    The new targets have been there since last year, but I understand that it takes time for them to be implemented once the backlog is cleared.

    I am undergoing cancer treatment right now and am utterly delighted to have been seen to relatively promptly since the diagnosis in January, at least for public health standards. They do however need to do some more work on prioritising those (like myself) who are working, and providing them with more accurate information about the likely time frames however; it has still been a struggle to get that information, and it has made dealing with the HR department extremely stressful. The scheduling for radiotherapy has been a bit of a struggle to fit within my work day; I do wish hospitals would take a further line on finicky elderly patients who are sometimes under the impression that should have treatment when they want it. Too often my oncologist is rolling his eyes because he’s had a meeting with an elderly patient who must have the radiation at X time, and doesn’t care that patients who are working need that time.

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  19. All_on_Red (3,505 comments) says:

    I think even those in opposition would concede Ryall has done well. The way he bought all the parties together to work for these outcomes is a good example for Ministers everywhere. Health is always a difficult portfolio.Knighthood for him I reckon.

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  20. Black with a Vengeance (2,196 comments) says:

    So much for survival of the fittest. More like survival of those deemed more fit to survive…

    Deemed by who though ?

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  21. Monique Angel (429 comments) says:

    Anecdotal evidence suggests quicker cancer treatment times. But A&E; what a joke.

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  22. Monique Angel (429 comments) says:

    My kids were always left for 7 to 10 hours before treatment for breaks and one choking incident. Is so much more civilized here in Aspirational California. Mandatory Health Insurance introduces competition, accountability and gouging of patient waiting times. Sux to be you in the gulag. Ryall nothing inspirational. Just a Bean Counter.

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  23. mandk (2,002 comments) says:

    @ Monique

    You should have trained your kids to vomit on the triage nurse.

    My lad did that once (unintentionally, mind). Worked a treat – he was seen in no time 🙂

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  24. RRM (12,553 comments) says:

    Monique – are you as obnoxious in real life, as you appear to be on here? Might explain a thing or two…

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