Radiation Treatment study due to begin

STUDY TO BEGIN: The radiation treatment facility feasiblity study will begin today with working group chair Lachlan Haynes welcoming the news.

Charlotte Varcoe

THE much anticipated feasibility study on radiation treatment facilities in Mount Gambier/Berrin will begin today with the Limestone Coast Local Health Network (LCLHN) expecting its completion in June next year.

Announced at this week’s LCLHN annual public meeting, chairperson Grant King said the study’s completion date would give the board time to consider the report at its June meeting.

“It is taking longer than we would like but I made the point a few weeks ago the process we went through in engaging in discussions with key stakeholders to ensure we have the right brief and what we want to achieve in regards to processing tenders, it was really important for us and gives us a good start,” Mr King said.

He said he was looking forward to the outcome.

Mr King also said after the hospital was unsuccessful in the first round of tenders for the radiation treatment facility, the health network was asked to put forward an alternative proposal which it did.

“We still think the increase in capability is a good thing to do but we have now listened and held off and we agree what is about to happen is critical for the future,” he said.

Limestone Coast Radiation Treatment Working Group chairperson Lachlan Haynes said the working group welcomed the commencement of the study.

“We had initially been hoping for a speedier timeframe but further welcome Grant providing certainly with a stated end date of the feasibility study concluding on June 21 for their board meeting on June 28 for consideration and actions arising from,” Mr Haynes said.

“As a working group we were further buoyed that in their addresses both Grant and acting chief executive officer Angela Miller committed to a ‘Whole of Region Health Plan’ to ascertain what are our future health services and the infrastructure the region will need.

“We are hopeful that plan incorporates radiotherapy for the region but we feel from the meeting that Mr King and the LCLHN are certainly sounding more positive towards the findings of the feasibility study and potential provision of the radiation treatment service coming to the region.”

The announcement comes following the state and federal opposition health ministers hosting a roundtable discussion regarding the issue recently.

Shadow Minister for Regional Health Penny Pratt said she was prompted to host a roundtable discussing cancer treatments following the release of the state’s draft consultation for a cancer plan.

During the discussions, the radiation treatment facility in Mount Gambier/Berrin remained a hot topic with Ms Pratt stating the draft plan was “silent on the provision of radiation therapy services” in regional South Australia.

“That in itself is a concern that South Australia continues to be the only state without any radiation therapy services located in a regional community,” Ms Pratt said.

“We know that people in rural and remote areas are 1.3 times more likely to die from cancer and have a lower survival rate than those living in major cities.

“I would argue that people living in regional South Australia do not have equity of access when it comes to a suite of cancer services including radiation therapy.”

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Chris Picton said the State Government had commissioned the feasibility study to examine establishing radiation services in the region with Health Q Consultants now engaged to deliver the study.

“We look forward to the results,” Mr Picton said.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler was contacted for comment.