The Manning-Great Lakes region will have access to a new Cancer Unit thanks to the Nationals in Government, with new radiation therapy services in the regions.

Announcing the inclusion of Taree in the package, Nationals Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie said he had been in discussions with the Health Minister about expanding cancer services in the region.

“There is a massive upgrade and transformation taking place in the health services across the Manning-Great Lakes with the redevelopment of Manning Base Hospital, the new hospital announced for Forster-Tuncurry, the Newcastle University medical and nursing programs and recently I announced a new multi-million dollar MRI Service licence for the Manning Base Hospital,” Dr Gillespie said. “This is another significant milestone in health service delivery with the announcement that Taree will be included in the $63-million boost for radiation therapy services in regional Australia.”

Dr Gillespie said the funding was in addition to the $6 billion a year the Federal Government provided for cancer treatments and services.

“Currently cancer patients throughout the Manning, Great Lakes and Gloucester have to travel to Port Macquarie or Newcastle for radiation oncology treatment,” Dr Gillespie said. “Radiation therapy is another important component in modern day cancer treatment helping to save many lives. It is absolutely vital that our region has access to these services and I’m absolutely thrilled to be announcing the Minister has signed off on this important initiative which will include Taree and other important centres across regional Australia.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Government was addressing the very real difficulty patients in regional and rural communities faced in accessing radiation therapy – therapy that could change their lives.

“It is vital that we do all we can to provide cancer care for patients living in Australia. We know that radiation therapy can open up options for people’s cancer treatment mix. It is a proven, life-saving used in 48 per cent of successful cancer treatments,” Mr Hunt said. “It helps patients with certain types of cancer avoid expensive and intrusive surgery, saving them thousands of dollars and avoiding long recoveries.”

“Yet we also know that a key barrier to radiation therapy in Australia is not cost, nor its effectiveness. It’s lack of access. The federally-funded initiative will provide greater access, help and support for people fighting cancer.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt

The new centres will deliver high quality, comprehensive radiation oncology services in the Eurobodalla, Clarence Valley, Tweed, Kempsey, Taree, Armidale, and Griffith regions.