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Labor announces funding to improve access to radiation oncology services.



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MEDIA RELEASE JULIA GILLARD M.P.

Shadow Minister for Health

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE WITH KEVIN BELL, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PAGE:

LABOR ANNOUNCES FUNDING TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO RADIATION ONCOLOGY SERVICES

Today, in conjunction with Labor’s candidate for the Federal seat of Page, Kevin Bell, I am pleased to announce that a Latham Labor Government will provide $8 million in funds for the Lismore Base Hospital to improve patient access to radiation oncology services in this area. Residents of towns such as Lismore, Grafton, Casino, Byron Bay, Murwillumbah and Ballina, among others, will benefit.

This funding is a recognition that multi-disciplinary care is the best approach to the treatment of cancer patients. If surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other support services are all in the one place, there is little or no need to travel for treatment and outcomes are improved.

This $8 million commitment matches that of the Carr Government in New South Wales and is funded from the Better Treatment for Cancer Patients initiative in the 2002-03 Federal Budget.

This line item provides $72.7 million to improve patient access to radiation oncology services, particularly in rural and regional areas, but more than 2 years later approximately 25 per cent of the allocation remains unspent.

An examination of the funding announcements made since May 2002 shows the vast majority occurring within the last 6 months - a clear sign that the Howard Government has dragged its feet on spending this vital money in regional and rural Australia and is only now getting it out the door because the election looms.

Kevin Bell said: “I am delighted that a Latham Federal Government and the Carr State Government have agreed to deliver these funds for the Lismore Hospital.

Many residents in this area have approached me to discuss the importance of access to radiation oncology services - some must travel to the Gold Coast or even Brisbane for treatment and I am confident that these new services will make it much easier for patients.”

For further information contact: 8 July 2004

Julia Gillard MP 0417 361 637 Kevin Bell 0421 198 604