Uncertainty over local cancer treatment

By Morgan Dyer

Shepparton cancer patients without private health insurance may have to continue to travel long distances to receive lifesaving treatment, as the Victorian Government has not confirmed a deal with private health provider GenesisCare.

The provider will open a $11 million cancer treatment centre on Corio St by the end of the year. However, the company is still in negotiations with the government to provide public access to the centre.

Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell recently blasted Health Minister Jenny Mikakos for refusing to commit to the funding.

“To ensure that public patients incur no out-of-pocket expenses when receiving radiotherapy at the facility, it is essential that the government commits funding to cover these treatment costs,” Ms Lovell said.

The concerns come after Ms Lovell initially raised the need for funding with the minister six months ago.

“It is disappointing that the minister’s response has not altered since I last raised the issue in March, and with the facility to open by the end of the year I urge Ms Mikakos to provide the funding to ensure that public patients will be able to access free radiotherapy services at the GenesisCare facility,” she said.

The News spoke to Ms Mikakos, who said negotiations were continuing and that she understood the importance of making the centre available to everyone in the community.

“We know how important it is for our families living outside of Melbourne to be able to access the health services they need, closer to home,” Ms Mikakos said.

“That’s why we have been working on a deal to ensure public patients in Shepparton have access to GenesisCare’s radiotherapy services, with no out-of-pocket expenses,” she said.

The centre will have the capacity to treat more than 400 patients a year, with the Department of Health and Human Services expecting this to include public patients.

The government’s Radiation Oncology Health Program Grant contributed to GenesisCare's delivery of the centre's high-cost equipment.