Labour is promising all New Zealanders will have access to the same level of cancer care no matter where they live.
It says it will set up a National Cancer Agency, initially costing $20 million, which will develop a national cancer plan if it is elected to government in September.
It is part of its campaign promise of $8 billion of health spending to redress what it calls the National Government’s $2.3 billion under-spending in the sector.
“What really worries me is that cancer care can be a ‘post code’ lottery,” leader Andrew Little said.
People in Auckland had a lower rate of radiation treatment than people in Wellington and those in Northland had a lower rate than those in Canterbury, he said.
“That’s not right. It’s not fair.
“It’s unacceptable that some cancer patients are waiting six months for CT scans.
“Australians are more likely to survive than those diagnosed with cancer in New Zealand and Australians have better access to cancer drugs.”
The agency would make a real difference to the 23,000 New Zealanders diagnosed with cancer every year, Mr Little said.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation was quick to praise the promise.
“Given that prostate cancer is the most common cancer among our men, we need to ask why there is no free, structured testing programme and a number of innovative treatments and medications are not available,” chief executive Graeme Woodside said.
There were hold ups with current initiatives, including the prostate cancer AQIP Programme, which had promised big changes but had yet to take off, he said.
Each year 3000 New Zealand men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 600 die. NZN