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The Government has been embarrassed into action on cancer by the National Party and has fallen short, National’s spokesperson for Health Michael Woodhouse says.

“After nine years of opposition and two years of sitting on his hands in Government, Minister Clark has been dragged kicking and screaming into some sort of strategy because of the National Party.

“The Minister of Health today made his grand announcement of an ‘interim’ cancer plan – a watered down regurgitation of work we already had under way.

“Commitments including prevention, screening, treatment and palliative care are meaningful objectives, which can be found in the already established New Zealand Cancer Plan 2015-2018.

“Rather than progress the strategy already put in place, the Minister has played politics and ground cancer development to a halt. The consequence being that 13 of 20 District Health Boards have shown poorer performance against the Faster Cancer Treatment target under this Government. Despite this, the Government’s plan makes no reference to targets for faster cancer treatment.

“This is too little too late and shows a complete disregard for the many families resorting to massive loans and Givealittle pages to afford proper cancer treatment.

“In September 2017 the Minister claimed he had a ‘fully costed’ and ‘independently audited’ cancer plan. The Government has repeatedly delayed the release of any strategy, being forced to scramble something together after National took decisive action on this life threatening issue.

“Last month at our Annual Conference, National Leader Simon Bridges announced that we have committed to establishing and funding a Cancer Agency that was fully independent, involved in prevention, screening and treatment of the disease. This is something the Labour Party campaigned on in opposition but has failed to deliver with this announcement, breaking their promise to cancer sufferers.

“National also committed to setting up a $200 million fund dedicated to cancer drugs so that New Zealanders can get the treatment they need. The Government’s desperate attempt to play catch up with a poor imitation of National’s funding for cancer drugs is an embarrassment.

“It is shameful that it took an announcement from the Opposition to force movement from the Government on this issue. In the year of delivery, the Labour Government has again shown there is none.”

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