Cancer cost counted

By Chris Thomson | posted on November 15, 2018

A BUNKER to house new radiotherapy equipment in Albany will cost nothing like the $14 million floated by State Health Minister Roger Cook, says Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson.

“I believe that is what it cost to instal two machines into the Bunbury Health Campus,” Mr Wilson said.

“The information I’ve received from Genesis Health Care is $3 million to build the bunker at [the public] Albany Health Campus, or $6 million to $7 million as a stand-alone build at the [forthcoming, private Great Southern] Health Precinct.

“Genesis is an Australia-wide company with extensive experience in installing and operating these machines and that gives me confidence that the numbers they’ve provided me with are sound numbers.”

Mr Wilson said the Bunbury machine had been supplied by GenesisCare.

In State Parliament last week, Mr Cook said the WA Country Health Service was a “long way away from” advertising a tender for a radiotherapy machine in Albany (‘Cancer cash raincheck’, 8 November).

He put a $6.6 million Federal grant for the machine, revealed by The Weekender (‘Cancer funding coup’ , 13 September), down to Liberal pork-barrelling before the upcoming Federal election.

He said the “lion’s share” of expense would be a bunker to house the equipment.

Mr Wilson agreed cost of the bunker was an issue, but timeliness of care another.

“Who knows which of us might be requiring that machine in six months’ time, or seven-and-a-half months’ time?” he posed.

“The funding that the Commonwealth Government has made available is from July 1, 2019.

“That’s when we want to see the machine operating, and by co-locating at the Albany Health Campus I’ve been told that timeframe is possible.”

“I assume Genesis is waiting for the State Government to give them an indication of support before they come to the State with a formal proposal,” he said.

“I guess the fact there had not been a formal proposal is partly because Mr Cook has not engaged at all with Genesis.

“He hasn’t met with them, but I’ve written requesting that he meet with them and Genesis has been seeking a meeting, and that’s why they approached me originally back in late June because they hadn’t been able to secure a meeting with the Minister.”

Mr Wilson said one reason GenesisCare was keen to instal a radiotherapy unit in Albany was because the company was treating patients from Albany and the Great Southern in Bunbury and Perth.

“Effectively, Genesis is saying they’re providing a service in Bunbury, the State Government is paying Patient Assisted Travel Scheme [money] for people to travel and stay there, with these treatments taking up to seven weeks,” he said.

“Genesis says they can provide that treatment in Albany, and put a lot less stress on patients and their families, and it doesn’t cost the State Government any more.”

The $6.6 million grant is to be paid in 10 annual amounts of $660,000 to cover the capital cost of the machine.

Neither Mr Cook nor General Manager of GenesisCare WA Michael Davis responded to questions by deadline.