Cancer patients from Wellington Hospital could be send to Australia for radiation therapy if the waiting time increases.
David Lamb, chief of Radiation oncology said, he has talked to Capital and Coast District Health Board managers to seriously consider sending patients outside for treatment, either within New Zealand or to Australia.
His concern focuses on the waiting time for Wellington cancer patients, which has grown to more than double the maximum wait prescribed by the national guidelines of the Health Ministry.
Professor Lamb points out," We've said that people who are liable to wait more than six weeks should have some alternative treatment avenue offered to them"
"Though urgent patients were still getting prompt treatment, it was unacceptable that many others with treatable cancer had to wait."
"We've had a wait time that's been going up a couple of weeks every month and we don't see an end to it because the workload is still coming in faster than we can treat it."
Professor Lamb also noted that other cancer centres in New Zealand were also experiencing problems with waiting times.
Cancer centre clinicians have been consulted, and they say that the option of sending patients elsewhere within New Zealand should be explored. They however add, "overseas options would not be needed at this time".
Neighbouring cancer centres have been approached and the hospital is to arrange for patients to be sent there for treatment if required.
In 2004, about 300 cancer patients from New Zealand were sent to Australia for radiation therapy to ease the pressure on the overstretched cancer services.
Every patient sent to Australia would cost an extra $8000 to New Zealand's health system.