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The much lauded cancer plan to be announced ‘in the coming weeks’ has turned out to be a consultation document which won’t address the immediate needs of cancer sufferers across New Zealand, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“Despite Labour claiming it had a plan for cancer which they had worked on for almost eight months, Health Minister David Clark has now announced they’re sending it out for consultation before implementing it.

“Dr Clark previously promised to bring cancer organisations ‘under one group, one organisation’. He claimed that Labour’s plan was ‘fully costed’ and ‘independently audited’ in September 2017.

“But the Government has repeatedly delayed its cancer strategy – waiting until this year to start working on it despite the last strategy expiring in December – and it’s affecting the lives of ordinary New Zealanders.

“What we’re seeing is yet another extended period of talking and consultation from this Government, which will do nothing to improve access and diagnoses for New Zealanders suffering from cancer.

“If David Clark was serious about improving cancer care across New Zealand, he would implement his plan and set up a National Cancer Agency. He would have National’s support.

“Labour also said it would increase PHARMAC funding, but since coming into Government, the increase in funding hasn’t even covered inflation.

“And Dr Clark claimed a Labour Government would establish a target to reduce the rate of one in three who die from cancer within its first 100 days, but his only notable efforts with targets have been to remove them.

“National has a plan for cancer sufferers – an independent, expert-led cancer agency recognised as the best way to ensure prevention, early detection and high-quality treatment, following international best practice and with the power to hold DHBs to account. We will fund access to lifesaving treatments with the support of leading clinicians.

“Under National’s cancer plan, Tracey Elliott wouldn’t have to sell her house to stay alive, and Blair Vining wouldn’t have been denied the colonoscopy that could have caught his cancer sooner.

“All Kiwis should have access to the best possible cancer treatment. This is about supporting people – they’re the bottom line.”

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