Cancer Society reacts to Cancer Action Plan

The release of the Cancer Action Plan on 1 September and the formation of a National Cancer Agency is the biggest restructure in cancer since 2003 say the Cancer Society. The detail remains to be confirmed and will require funding in next year’s budget to deliver on many of the plan’s ambitions.

“This is a positive step toward a first-class system for all New Zealanders” says Dr Chris Jackson, Cancer Society Medical Director.

“The plan has hit the mark with equity-led, knowledge-driven, and outcomes-focused principles.

“But we can’t lift outcomes without spending in the key areas identified in the plan to reduce the number of kiwis affected by cancer and improve survival for those who get cancer. 

“We will challenge the Government to make sure the final plan includes real targets and timeframes and that Government and DHBs are accountable for delivering on the goals of the plan.

“NZ’s progress on cancer has stalled, and we are falling behind Australia and Canada. This plan, led by a new National Director of Cancer Control within an independent agency will reboot cancer control in New Zealand.

“We welcome Professor Diana Sarfati, a highly respected and internationally renowned cancer control expert into the role of the National Director of Cancer Control. She will be heading up the newly formed Cancer Control Agency that will be tasked with keeping the Government and DHBs accountable for results. We look forward to seeing a national approach to cancer developed.

“We’ve tried several times to get this right with past health reforms - and now its third time right for cancer control.” Previous reforms include the first cancer plan in 2003 and the ‘Better, Sooner, More Convenient Health Care in the Community’ 2011 reforms.  

The Cancer Society has consistently applied pressure on the Government to deliver a cancer plan and will continue to push for better cancer outcomes for all New Zealanders.

The Cancer Society has played a key part in the cancer plan by co-hosting the Cancer Care at a Crossroads conference with the University of Otago, and providing input and advice to Ministry officials during the drafting of the plan.

“We want to see clear accountability and strong measurable outcomes so that the system stops failing New Zealanders going through cancer and that we are preventing cancer for the next generation,” concludes Dr Jackson.

The Cancer Society would like to acknowledge the leading role played by Blair Vining.

Blair is the inspiring Southlander with terminal cancer selflessly spending his time fighting to make things better for others. He has led a petition for a national cancer agency conceived at the ‘Cancer Care at a Crossroads’ conference and gained over 140,000 signatures. His personal efforts and generosity have sparked a massive community response which shows how much people care about making the system better.