Health board dithers over Wakatipu cancer scandal

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Dithering health chiefs admit they’re still weeks from solving the scandalous travel torment inflicted on Wakatipu cancer sufferers. 

Seriously-ill patients are forced to travel twice as far as they need to for life-saving chemotherapy, Mountain Scene revealed last week. 

They endure harrowing 400km return trips to Invercargill when they could be treated at Clyde’s Dunstan Hospital, 90km away. 

Southern District Health Board last week said the “inequity of access” arises because trust-owned Dunstan Hospital only delivers chemo to patients within its Central Otago boundary. 

Now SDHB finance boss Robert Mackway Jones says the board’s planning and funding team had talks with its provider-arm on Tuesday. 

“I expect a recommendations paper within the next few weeks, at which point a decision will need to be made.”
Local patients affected include well-known community volunteer Glenn ‘Scooter’ Reid and Alison Naylor, who travels to Dunedin for treatment. 

Now Arrowtowner Claire Wilson (right), 29, has also spoken out. 

A bowel cancer patient, she’s travelled fortnightly to Invercargill for chemo since December. 

“It’s all about quality of life and you don’t want to spend your time in a car travelling around when it could easily be done at Dunstan. It’s a 12-hour day – you feel tired, the chemo drugs are pretty rough. 

“There’s no way I could drive myself – my mum or somebody else has to take time off work to drive me.” 

Her 400km round trips are also an extra burden on the taxpayer as she claims mileage, Wilson says.

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