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State Government confirms 11-week delay for Albany radiation oncology service

Stuart McGuckinAlbany Advertiser
The Albany Health Campus Radiation Oncology Service under construction.
Camera IconThe Albany Health Campus Radiation Oncology Service under construction. Credit: Kasey Gratton

The State Government has confirmed “supply issues” have pushed back the completion of the Albany radiation oncology centre by about 11 weeks.

Opposition Leader Mia Davies last week criticised the State Government for delays in delivering the Great Southern’s first radiation oncology service.

“This is just another example of the McGowan Labor Government making empty promises to regional communities with no ability to deliver vital services on time,” she said.

Parliament was told in May that the “expected practical completion date” was September and the service was planned to be “operational in the fourth quarter in 2022”.

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Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson told Parliament in the same month that the Government was “absolutely committed” to delivering the oncology unit, but there would be “a few months delay”.

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson
Camera IconHealth Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson Credit: Andrew Ritchie/The West Australian

“We have every hope and intention of opening it this year, but there are factors outside our control, and we are very open and frank with the community about that,” she said in May.

This week, a spokeswoman for Ms Sanderson said the unit would reach practical completion in January 2023.

“Supply issues have resulted in an approximate 11-week delay in the project,” she said.

“This $13.1 million investment will see a new specialised bunker, known as a linac suite, located at Albany Health Campus.

“This is an exciting project which will enable Great Southern patients undergoing cancer treatment to access care locally.”

The cancer service has been in the pipeline since 2017, when the Federal Government awarded $6.6 million to GenesisCare to buy radiation oncology equipment for an Albany service.

Supply issues have resulted in an approximate 11-week delay in the project,

spokeswoman for Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson

In March 2019, the State Government pledged $13 million to develop the facility at Albany Health Campus, bringing the total project cost to about $20 million.

In December 2019, when the site had been chosen and design work was under way, the State Government said it expected the facility to be “operational by early 2022”.

Shadow regional health minister Martin Aldridge said the people of Albany deserved answers as to when they would be able to access the service.

He said access to the unit would be “revolutionary for local cancer patients and their families”.

“This project would mean the world to families who regularly travel long distances to Perth for treatment and ease the burden that goes along with that — including the cost of accommodation, loss of work and being unable to return to their own homes following treatment,” he said.

“It’s well known that country people have poorer cancer outcomes than their metro counterparts, and timely access to local treatment is a big part of this.”

GenesisCare has been awarded a 10-year contract to operate the Albany radiation oncology service in collaboration with WA Country Health Service’s Albany Health Campus medical oncology team.

The Australian-based integrated oncology provider will deliver treatment for cancer patients in the Great Southern including prostate, breast, lung and colorectal cancers, as well as palliative treatments for symptom control.

The Albany facility will house a linear accelerator or linac, which targets cancer cells while minimising exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

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