Fast-track plea for radiation machine

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on May 22, 2020

ALBANY’S promised cancer radiation therapy machine is set to be operational by the second half of 2022 but local campaigners and politicians say it’s not good enough patients must continue to wait for lifesaving treatment close to home.

Currently, patients from the Great Southern requiring radiation must travel to Perth or Bunbury for treatment.

Campaigner Mary Williams, whose initial $15m fundraising fight for the machine in Albany began four years ago, was beside herself when the project was awarded $6.6m in Federal funding in September 2018 and $13.1m in State funding in March 2019.

But she is frustrated with what appears to her as a lack of trying on the State’s behalf to get the project underway.

“I am at a loss as to why we can’t fast-track this,” Ms Williams said.

“It’s the perfect time – we need to give our people jobs and this would create jobs.

“Our cancer patients are so vulnerable, particularly now … the anguish of our people when they have to travel for treatment … that’s when the depression sets in.”

Federal Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson echoed Ms William’s disbelief, describing the delay as “unacceptable”.

“On April 20, Premier Mark McGowan announced a list of major infrastructure projects to be fast-tracked, supporting jobs and boosting local economies,” he said.

“But perhaps the most imperative project for our region, one which will save lives, was left off that list – the Albany Radiation Machine Project.

“I’m calling on Premier McGowan to fast-track this vital project.”

State Health Minister Roger Cook said efforts to streamline the oncology project were in place now by concurrently completing the Project Definition Plan and Schematic Design processes ahead of procurement.

“However, this is a complex operation in biomedical engineering to create a specialised bunker for radiation equipment,” he said.

“The design and construction needs to protect the safety of patients and staff so they aren’t exposed to unnecessary radiation.

“We will work to ensure the project is completed to the appropriate level of efficacy and safety.”