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Budget 2012 is delivering an additional $33 million in operating funding over the next four years for better and faster services for cancer patients, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.
This includes funding for dedicated nurses, who will coordinate care and support for individual patients throughout the course of their cancer treatment.
“Being diagnosed with cancer is a difficult time for patients and their families,” Mr Ryall says. “This more personalised service will mean better treatment and a less stressful experience for patients.
“Research shows some cancer patients can come into contact with up to 28 doctors, and even more nurses, throughout their treatment.
“The new dedicated cancer nurses will act as a single point of contact and assist patients and their families across different parts of the health service. This expands what is already happening in parts of the country, and the feedback from patients has been fantastic.
“We are also working to further reduce waiting times throughout a patient’s treatment. We want patients to have faster access to a specialist once cancer is suspected, and then faster access to treatment once there is a confirmed diagnosis.”
From 1 July, DHBs will achieve this by collecting data at key points along the patient’s clinical journey.
“The more we know, the better we can identify issues that lead to delays and frustrations for patients,” Mr Ryall says. “For instance, instead of a patient visiting hospital several times for different tests, departments should coordinate appointments so they are all completed in one day.”
These new initiatives will build on the success of the National Health Target ‘shorter waits for cancer treatment’.
“Under the national target, waits for radiation treatment have reduced in the past three years, from up to 15 weeks to four weeks,” Mr Ryall says.
“Patients no longer have to go to Australia for treatment.
“Despite tight financial times, the Government is spending $14.12 billion in 2012/13 on health – the biggest investment ever. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to protecting and growing public health services.”