CHEMOTHERAPY UNDER-DOSING: BAIRD GOV’T BREAKS REVIEW PROMISE – CALLS FOR SPECIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY GROW

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The Baird Government’s mishandling of the chemotherapy under-dosing debacle has deepened with the revelation that the Health Minister has broken her promise to review all 200,000 public cancer patients and instead plans to carry out a “random sample” of a mere 1800 cases. 

State Labor also questioned the comprehensiveness of NSW Health’s investigations into chemotherapy under-dosing after it was revealed that three junior doctors and a senior doctor refused to participate in the St Vincent’s investigation, and a nurse in the Central West also refused to participate.

Furthermore, poor record keeping in the Western NSW Local Health District meant families and patients may never know the extent of chemotherapy under-dosing in Orange and Bathurst. 

Today NSW Labor leader Luke Foley renewed his push for the Premier to call a Special Commission of Inquiry into chemotherapy under-dosing – presided over by a judge with the powers of a Royal Commission to compel witnesses to give evidence and subpoena documents.

NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord said despite NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner’s August 2 promise at a press conference with NSW Cancer Institute’s Professor David Currow that she would scrutinise all public cancer patients that received treatment for cancer in the public health system over the past five years, it has now been revealed that the review will look at less than one per cent of patients.

(In NSW, each year 40,000 people are diagnosed with non-melanoma cancers – and she promised to review the last five years of patients)

Later that day Mrs Skinner told the NSW Parliament:

“I have asked the Cancer Institute to be in touch with every chief executive of every local health district throughout New South Wales to get an assurance from them in writing that they have checked the protocol treatments of every public cancer patient in New South Wales for the past five years."

In questions put to her by the NSW Opposition today, Mrs Skinner failed to explain why she had dropped the promise only to say that concerned patients could call a hotline and ask for a review of their case.        

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Health Minister Skinner promised a review of all public cancer patients who have received treatment over the past five years yet what she is actually delivering is a tiny sample. It’s a broken promise.

“This news will be cold comfort to the thousands of families whose loved ones were treated for cancer.

“Once again this Minister has put the interests of health officials before the public. Premier Baird needs to find himself a new health minister.

“NSW patients need a Special Commission of Inquiry with the powers of a royal commission to get to the bottom of the under-dosing scandal.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Health Walt Secord 

 “The culture of cover up and secrecy in NSW just continues in NSW under Health minister Jillian Skinner.”

“This is about protecting the community and ensuring the integrity and public confidence in the NSW health and hospital system.”