Media Release - 05/02/10
Canterbury District Health Board would like to thoroughly reassure the public that there is not a crisis looming in cancer treatment in Canterbury (The Press Friday 5 February).
“We are far from struggling and in fact this region is better equipped than it has ever been to provide high quality services to cancer patients,” Chief Medical Officer Nigel Millar said.
“While two oncologists will be leaving Christchurch Hospital’s Oncology Department for the private sector at the end of March, their resignations were well planned and oncologists have already been found to fill their positions,” Christchurch Hospital Interim General Manager Ruth Barclay said.
“Drs Chris Wynne and Chris Atkinson have made an enormous contribution to Christchurch Hospital’s Oncology Department and having them working in the private sector will be incredibly valuable in local collaboration between the private and public sectors,” she said.
CDHB is currently spending about $10 million on significantly upgrading the Oncology Department including two new linear accelerator (linac) machines, a new linac bunker, a new chemotherapy suite, new clinic rooms, waiting areas and offices.
Late last year the new oncology bunker was unveiled to house one of the two new Linear Accelerators for the department. A new Linear Accelerator has now been installed and will start giving faster more effective treatment to cancer patients in April.
This linac replaces one of two ageing machines in the Oncology Department, with the second to be replaced before the end of the year.
“The newly installed linac is 12 -20 per cent more efficient than its predecessor, translating to a total of about 1,000 more treatments or 70 more courses of treatment each year,” Radiation Oncology Clinical Director Iain Ward said.
“It is great news for Canterbury cancer patients as we will be able to provide radiation treatment earlier. The new machines will also more accurately target cancers, limiting the level of radiation reaching surrounding tissue and reducing side effects.”
When both new accelerators have been installed and the old machines removed, there will be a vacant bunker in the Oncology Department for a fourth linac.
“At the moment we don’t know when we will need the extra capacity of a fourth machine,” Dr Ward said.
Although plans are being made to shift the Oncology Department into stage two of the Christchurch Hospital redevelopment, this won’t happen for about 11 years and the DHB believed the extra capacity for treatment and clinic space was needed as soon as possible, Dr Millar said.