THE Border will get its $70 million cancer treatment centre.
Minister for Regional Australia Simon Crean made the announcement last night on the ABC television program Q&A, which was broadcast from Albury.
The centre will be built next to Albury hospital.
The project will include upgraded and new cancer treatment equipment as well as a chemotherapy suite for children and young people.
The federal government will provide $65 million from the Health and Hospitals Fund for the project with a further $5 million in-kind local funding.
“This new centre will transform the way patients in the Murray and Hume regions access specialist cancer services,” Mr Crean said.
“In particular, this project shows how the Australian government can deliver important projects that cross state borders and would be otherwise difficult for an individual state government to deliver on their own.
“This is part of Labor’s ongoing commitment to improving regional health services and helping regional Australians to see and contact a doctor closer to home.”
The Border’s first bid for the federal funding was rejected last April sparking a wave of outrage in the community, including a road-trip protest to Canberra, petition with more than 17,000 signatures and a symbolic protest on the Lincoln Causeway.
Cancer registry data shows more than 1400 people are diagnosed with cancer in the region each year.
It is the leading cause of death with more than 500 people a year needing to leave the Border for treatment.
Federal health minister Nicola Roxon said the new centre would join 22 other regional cancer centres around the country, linked to hubs in Melbourne and Sydney.
“Improvements will include a third linear accelerator for radiation therapy and space for a fourth in future,” she said.
“The existing radiotherapy equipment will also be upgraded and there will be a new chemotherapy suite for children and young people.”
Treasurer Wayne Swan said health was a priority for the federal government and the Border centre would be re-announced in next week’s federal budget.
“Finding room in this budget for expanded health services has been difficult but shows what a high priority it is for the Gillard government,” he said.
Ms Roxon’s office said the investment would provide the infrastructure needed to deliver integrated, comprehensive cancer services in the Albury-Wodonga region for the next decade and beyond.
The centre is expected to provide enhanced medical services including inpatient, haematology and oncology services.
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