The lack of radiation treatment services in Mount Gambier has prompted City Council to seek answers from the Limestone Coast Local Health Network.
During council’s June monthly meeting Councillor Ben Hood moved council write to health network chief executive Grant King expressing its concern and seek clarification on the matter.
“Noting recent media coverage, council write requesting clarification as to why the health network refused to support the proposal by the former Federal Government to establish a radiation treatment centre located in Mount Gambier to service patients within the Limestone Coast,” Cr Hood said.
“Why there are no plans to review the current service model that requires residents to travel more than two hours to Warrnambool for treatment.
“In a report, Mount Gambier was selected as one of 13 regional sites … needing a new radiation therapy service under a $63m commitment by the Coalition Federal Government in 2019.
“South East patients not just in Mount Gambier, but Naracoorte, Millicent and Penola, requiring radiation therapy treatment must travel five hours to Adelaide or to Warrnambool.
“It greatly concerns me stated in that article the radiation services in Warrnambool being established to cater for Mount Gambier residents. As someone with two family members with cancer in the last 20 years and unfortunately passed away, it is a cost on family, stress, anxiety to travel … for services.
“I firmly believe as South Australia’s second biggest city (we) should have these services readily available for our residents. As a council it is our responsibility to advocate, but as a major hub for this region we should be able to cater for the wider community.”
Cr Hood requested a copy of the letter from City Council be sent to Independent Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell, Minister for Regional Development Clare Scriven, Minister for Health Chris Picton and Federal Member for Barker Tony Pasin.
Cr Frank Morello supported the motion, adding he was stunned by what he had heard in the report.
“It’s an injustice to our community. Why would we prop up the Warrnambool service while renegading our local people to a four hour round trip to access services across the border makes no sense,” Cr Morello said.
“Cancer patients in Mount Gambier and the Limestone Coast are dying prematurely because of lack of access to radiation services.
“Studies show that regional cancer patients are 35% more likely to die within five years of diagnosis than their city counterparts.
“It is unacceptable that postcodes should determine your survival outcomes.”
Mr King issued a brief statement revealing the health network would continue to review cancer services in the region.
“It’s under constant review,” he said.
“We will continue to review what we currently provide and anything that might be able to be provided into the future.”