Labour isn’t taking cancer seriously

By removing targets to diagnose and treat cancer Labour is taking its eye off a very deadly ball, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Rei says.

“The last National Government made smart use of DHB performance data and introduced targets for key public health outcomes to make sure accountability was embedded right across our health system.

“We set targets for cancer sufferers to see a specialist and to be treated. This is because Kiwis with cancer have a better chance of survival if the disease is picked up earlier and treated quickly.

“Health Minister Andrew Little has admitted none of his newly announced health indicators measure cancer. Even worse, he couldn’t answer how many of the 30,000 New Zealanders waiting longer than the four month minimum for treatment in hospital had a primary diagnosis of cancer.

“One of Labour’s first moves after taking office was to cancel the National Health Targets, and unsurprisingly four years later every single one of these critical public health measures have got worse.

“National has no confidence that the Government will be able to turn our health system around if it doesn’t introduce ambitious targets and hold DHBs accountable.

“Targets save lives. By failing to measure the performance of DHBs in diagnosing and treating cancer patients, there will be New Zealanders waiting too long and we will see lives needlessly lost as a result.”