THE survival prospects for local cancer patients are set to improve dramatically in the very near future.
The Federal Government has approved funding for the installation of a new magnetic resonance imaging scanner or MRI at the North Coast Cancer Centre at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
It will be the first MRI at a public hospital in rural New South Wales.
News of the success of their grant application caught staff at the Cancer Centre by surprise.
“It is long overdue for a city the size of Coffs Harbour but very welcome all the same,” the hospital’s Director of Radiology, Dr Shadley Fataar, said.
“We have already assessed the different MRIs on the market for quality, features and price, so I hope we can move quickly to buy the one we need,” he said.
The Area Director of Cancer Services, Dr Tom Shakespeare, said the conditions of the grant approval meant the MRI will be installed before the end of 2012.
“Within the $5.8 million allocation is money for planning and building a home for the MRI, testing and training staff so we can now start that process with confidence,” Dr Shakespeare said. “This will be a significant benefit to cancer patients not just locally but all across the north coast. It will be particularly helpful for the better targeting of radiotherapy treatment for breast and prostate cancer patients, and will significantly reduce waiting list times.”
Dr Shakespeare said the MRI will be accessed by patients from Taree to Lismore, just as local patients will utilised a PET scanner also announced this week for the cancer centre at Lismore. Mr Rudd visited Lismore and Port Macquarie on Tuesday where he announced funding for a new linear accelerator.
“Our second linear accelerator in now working eight hours a day in Coffs Harbour so from a regional perspective, cancer services are really improving and becoming cutting edge,” Dr Shakespeare said. He also added the arrival of the MRI will make the city even more attractive to specialist staff and doctors.
Dr Fataar said the fact that three quarters of local cancer patients did not have private health insurance meant huge financial savings would also soon come their way.