Wendy Lovell welcomes commitment to fund radiotherapy

By Myles Peterson

In a rare display of bipartisanship, the Liberals’ Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has welcomed a state Labor commitment to fund radiotherapy in Shepparton.

In March, Ms Lovell queried Health Minister Jenny Mikakos via a ‘constituency question’ in parliament.

‘‘Will the minister give a commitment to providing recurrent funding to any private service provider that establishes radiotherapy services in Shepparton prior to a public service being established to ensure such treatment is accessible to all patients?’’ Ms Lovell asked.

The minister responded the Andrews Government was in negotiations to achieve just such an outcome.

‘‘On 21 March, 2019, GenesisCare announced a plan to develop a radiotherapy facility in Shepparton,’’ Ms Mikakos replied via a statement released yesterday.

‘‘The Department of Health and Human Services is in negotiations with GenesisCare to support public patient access to radiotherapy treatment at this facility at no out-of-pocket cost and to ensure that this radiotherapy service is integrated with other cancer services in the region.’’

Her long-running campaign for radiotherapy for public and private patients in Shepparton is finally ‘‘bearing fruit’’ according to Ms Lovell.

‘‘I welcome the commitment private health provider GenesisCare has made to deliver radiotherapy to the Goulburn Valley and I am excited to see construction of the facility under way,’’ she said.

‘‘In the last four years, I have raised the need for radiotherapy services to be available in Shepparton over 50 times in parliament, highlighting the need for the Andrews Labor Government to provide recurrent funding to GenesisCare so that public patients can also access this life-saving treatment.

‘‘News that the government is negotiating with GenesisCare to provide this funding is a positive step.’’

The new radiotherapy facility is set to open on Corio St by the end of this year.

Goulburn Valley Health’s chief executive Matt Sharp said last month his organisation looked forward to working with the private operator.

‘‘That’s really a significant and important thing in terms of our partnership with GenesisCare — that we’re absolutely committed to making sure the public patients have good access to cancer care and indeed any care and treatment they require. We will be working closely to make sure people can access radiotherapy locally for public patients,’’ Mr Sharp said.

‘‘It will mean that people in this region won’t have to travel the long distances they’re currently having to travel to receive their care and treatment.’’