62 days for cancer treatment now

The Herald reports:

Nearly every patient will have to receive treatment within 62 days under an ambitious three-year plan outlined by the Government today.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman released the planning document for 2015-2018 at Wellington Hospital this afternoon.

At the heart of the plan was a faster cancer treatment programme, originally announced during the election campaign by former health minister Tony Ryall.

It would create a new national health target for 90 per cent of patients to receive their first cancer treatment within 62 days of being referred “with high suspicion of cancer”.

An initial target of 85 per cent would be set for July 2016.

The 62-day deadline was considered the international “gold standard” for cancer treatment.

The Government has already met its previous targets for cancer treatment times, so it is good to see them not rest on the laurels, but continue to set more demanding targets. This is such a contrast to previously, when scores of people had to fly to Australia to get timely treatment.

The real credit should go to the staff in the health system, who have done what is necessary to make these targets. They do matter, and probably literally save lives.

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