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Most of us have memories of family and friends who have been affected by cancer, which is New Zealand’s biggest cause of death.

 

That’s why Simon Bridges outlined National’s plan for cancer care at our recent annual conference in Christchurch. Our policy includes an extra $200 million over four years for PHARMAC to fund cancer drugs for those who need them.

 

We have also committed to introducing a National Cancer Agency to deliver earlier diagnoses, fairer access and better treatment for cancer sufferers across New Zealand.

 

New Zealanders shouldn’t have to pack up their lives and go to other countries for cancer treatment. We shouldn’t have to mortgage our houses, set up Givealittle pages or take out massive loans to be able to afford medicines which are funded overseas.

 

The agency will be involved in prevention, screening and treatment. New Zealand is a world leader in research and innovation, so the centre will also facilitate research so that in the future we can prevent cancer and treat it more effectively.

 

It will ensure that no matter where we live in New Zealand we will get the same standard of care. Too often people in regional towns are disadvantaged because they don’t have access to the services we mostly enjoy in Hamilton.

 

We believe that medical experts and clinical professionals should be making these decisions, not Wellington-based bureaucrats. Our National Cancer Agency will ensure that happens.

 

The current Government claims its investment in health this year is the biggest ever. Yet we have the biggest DHB deficits on record. There are fewer elective surgeries happening under this Government. And 38,000 more people aren’t seeing their GP because of the costs.

 

The previous National Government boosted annual investment in PHARMAC by $220m over nine years. That meant around 820,000 New Zealanders benefited from extra investment in new PHARMAC-funded medicines. Despite claiming to be “caring and compassionate”, this Government only put an extra 1 per cent into PHARMAC for life-saving drugs. That doesn’t even cover inflation.

 

As MPs, we often hear personal and heart-breaking stories about our constituents. Tracey Elliott and her husband Troy are in the process of selling their house because they’re spending $9000 every three weeks on life-extending drugs. The drugs they’re selling their family home to buy are fully funded in the UK and Australia.

 

The Government has put 75 times more money into Shane Jones’s slush fund to help NZ First get re-elected than it has into PHARMAC. They’re also spending billions of dollars on working groups and fees-free tertiary education. Their priorities are wrong.

 

National’s Cancer Fund is a priority for us because it will help thousands of Kiwis. It’s the right thing to do.

 

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