Public plugs PET gap
WHEN Lismore’s new cancer beating positron emissions tomography (PET) scanner comes online some time over the next few years, the Federal Government will be able to take part of the credit.
The rest will go to people like Robert Johnston and his mates in the North Coast Working Stock Dog Association.
Mr Johnston, of Tatham, along with fellow association members Stephen Flatley, of Casino, and Sean Copper, of Jiggi, yesterday handed over a cheque for nearly $5400 towards the high-tech PET scanner, bringing community donations for the device to more than $60,000.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s $6.5 million announcement this month covered the cost of buying Lismore’s much anticipated PET scanner, along with a second radiotherapy device.
However, Lismore MP Thomas George said the community money still had an important role to play in bringing the PET scanner to the Northern Rivers.
North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford this month confirmed Lismore Base Hospital’s new cancer care unit had no space to accommodate the PET scanner and a special bunker would have to be built – probably in the Richmond Clinic car park,adjoining the cancer unit – to house it.
The health service now has to convince NSW Health to hand over extra money to cover that cost, as well as the money to install the device and for the specialists needed to operate it.
The Federal funding for the scanner is in a pool of money being spent over a four-year cycle and it has been suggested the work involved in building the bunker could put it at the end of that cycle.
However, Mr George said the community money, which was being held in a trust fund, could provide the leverage needed to convince the NSW Government to fast-track the PET scanner bunker, particularly if the effort reached the $100,000 target set by campaigners for the scanner.
“I would like to suggest that (Ballina MP) Don (Page) and (Page MP) Janelle (Saffin) and I will use the community’s financial support as an encouragement or enticement for the NSW Government to provide the building to enable the scanner to be on site sooner rather than later,” Mr George said.
Mr Johnston, Mr Flatley and Mr Copper said they organised last month’s fundraising dog trial at Mr Johnston’s Tatham property in memory of local dog expert Ian Ensby, who died after a long battle with cancer last year. Last year, the association had organised a benefit to help Mr Ensby and this year decided to replace that with a memorial event.
The Ian Ensby memorial event would now be held each year, with all proceeds raised going to a different local charity each time. Association members would decide each year’s charity by a vote.