State pledges $50m for radiotherapy units
By Alex Easton
WORK on Lismore??s planned new cancer treatment unit could begin late next year, sparking calls from the city??s medical fraternity for an end to speculation the radiotherapy unit should go to the private St Vincent??s Hospital.
However, Page MP Ian Causley, who has been openly talking about moving the long-awaited facility to St Vincent??s, said he would not believe the State Government is serious about funding until work begins.
Lismore Base Hospital Medical Staff Council secretary Dr William James said that, based on the State Government??s commitment of funding for detailed planning, and the allocation of $50 million for new cancer units at Lismore and Orange, Council was convinced the State Government was making serious moves towards building the unit within this term of government.
Dr James said the region??s medicos believed the first sod on the unit, which makes up stage two of the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment, could be turned as early as next?o year.
Dr James and another Medical Staff Council member, Dr Chris Ingall, said the region would ultimately be better served by having the radiotherapy unit with the rest of the cancer care unit at the Base Hospital.
??I think it??s fair to say the doctors, as a group, are firmly behind the State Government??s plan, as long as it??s completed in a timely manner,?? Dr Ingall said. Dr Ingall and Dr James said patients would be better served by having the radiotherapy unit combined with the cancer care unit at the base, because it would give seamless access to other services within the unit and with other medical services available at the Base.
Dr Ingall said members of the Medical Staff Council would meet with Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott when he arrived in Lismore next week to tell him they supported building the unit at the Base Hospital and they believed the State Government was serious about stage two.
North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford was unable to commit to a specific timeline, but said the present planning phase was expected to run until the end of the year. That would be followed by detailed architectural planning, which would take about six months, and calling for tenders on the project, which would take about three months.
While that suggests work could begin late next year, Mr Crawford said those phases tended to be spaced with approval processes that had no specific timelines attached to them.
??I??m excited because we??re going to the next phase, but I don??t want to read more into it than is there,?? he said. Mr Causley said he agreed with doctors that patients would be better served if the radiotherapy unit was at the Base, but said it was more important that it simply be in Lismore, and he would continue pressuring for its construction, regardless of its location.