NINE people have been referred away from Orange’s radiotherapy machine in the last six weeks due to extensive waiting lists.
The over-worked machine has run at maximum capacity since shortly after it opened a year ago, with the current four-week waiting list too long for those who need urgent treatment.
Cancer Care Western NSW chairman John Carpenter said while federal funds were announced last week to purchase a second linear accelerator, the state government is yet to announce its funding contribution to staff and run the machine.
Mr Carpenter said a bunker was already at the hospital for a second linear accelerator.
“The need is here, the bunker is empty, people are being referred away,” he said.
“It cost $20 million to build two bunkers and one’s not full.”
Mr Carpenter said the linear accelerator was shutdown one day each fortnight for essential maintenance, with the closure leading to longer treatment times for cancer sufferers.
Around $700,000 is needed to fit out the second bunker, while a further $3-4 million will be required to staff and provide for goods and services.
“It would be a great credit to them [state government] if despite the budget issues it was approved,” Mr Carpenter said.
“We want to encourage them and emphasise the need. In terms of efficient use of the current facility it cannot work to its full capacity.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee said federal funding approval should “highlight” to the state government the need for a second linear accelerator.
“It certainly adds an element of pressure because having people turned away is very difficult for these people and it’s very difficult for their families,” he said.
“There are some things that are essential to regional communities and obviously we’d like to highlight the need for funding and how crucial it actually is.”
The state government announces its budget on June 12.