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Cancer hub could cost millions more

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
Albany Health Campus.
Camera IconAlbany Health Campus.

A multimillion-dollar cancer treatment centre in Albany is not planned to be operational by mid-2019, despite repeated claims from O’Connor MP Rick Wilson and other local media.

Twice this month other media have claimed Albany Health Campus could have its own radiotherapy unit by June next year, after reporting a $6.6 million Commonwealth grant for treatment machinery in Albany.

Once the facility is operational cancer sufferers will no longer need to travel 500km to Perth.

However, there is no indication the facility will be operational by mid-2019, with the WA Health Minister and the WA Country Health Service saying developing a case for the building could be a lengthy process.

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While money has been secured for the machinery, a facility to house it will bring a substantial extra cost given a purpose-built, lead-lined bunker is needed to contain radiation given off during operation.

The cost to build such a facility with two linear accelerators in Darwin in 2006 was estimated at about $18 million.

While WA Health Minister Roger Cook welcomed Commonwealth funding, he said “more consideration needs to be given to the project” and he was in discussions with the Federal Government and WA Country Health Service.

“The specialised ‘bunker’ required to house the machinery is likely to involve a tender process,” he said.

WA Country Health Service regional director (Great Southern) David Naughton said a business case would also be needed.

Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson, who announced the grant, said he had not spoken to the WA Department of Health, WA Country Health Service or the Health Minister about the June operation date.

“I wrote to the Minister for Health, Roger Cook, on August 9 requesting the State Government co-operate to expedite the installation of this life-saving equipment,” he said.

“I have yet to receive any response from the minister, or any communications from the State Health Department or WA Country Health Services.”

Albany MP Peter Watson welcomed the funding.

“I look forward to the State and Commonwealth governments working together to build the facility need to house the radiotherapy machine,” he said.

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