Wakatipu cancer sufferers treated closer

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Wakatipu cancer patients will soon be able to get their life-saving chemotherapy treatment closer to home.

Southern District Health Board has today (Friday) announced that locals with cancer who need chemo will no longer have to travel to Invercargill’s Southland Hospital for treatment – from May 17 they’ll travel to Clyde’s Dunstan Hospital instead.

The about-turn comes after a recent Mountain Scene campaign revealing that already-suffering locals were forced to travel a five-hour, 400km-round trip to get their medication at Southland Hospital instead of a total of 180km in Clyde.

SDHB boss Brian Rousseau says the DHB’s Southern Blood and Cancer Service is “delighted” it’s finally able to minimise the travel times for Wakatipu patients.

“When the Southern Blood and Cancer Service was formed, one of our aims was to ensure equity of access to treatment for all patients across Otago and Southland and to deliver care as close to patients’ homes as possible”, Rousseau says.

“Our planning and funding team have now finalised a contract with Central Otago Health Services for patients from the Wakatipu Basin to receive treatment at Dunstan Hospital.

“We are very grateful to COHS for their support to allow Wakatipu patients to receive their chemotherapy treatment closer to home, just over an hour away at Dunstan and we would like to thank our colleagues at Dunstan Hospital for working with us towards this great outcome.”

Complex cases and those patients classified as high-risk will still need to be treated at either Dunedin or Southland Hospitals.

During the 2009/10 year there were 23 new cancer patients in the Wakatipu Basin. Rousseau says the service expects to see similar numbers over the next year.