Major investment for cancer patients unveiled at Christchurch in the Radiation Oncology Department

Christchurch Central Electorate
Friday, September 30, 2016

Today I officially opened the new $4 million Linear Accelerator treatment machine to benefit cancer patients receiving radiation therapy at the Radiation Oncology Department of Christchurch Hospital.

A Linear Accelerator is used for external beam radiation treatments to any part/organ of the body for patients with cancer.  It delivers high-energy x-rays to the region of the patient’s tumour.  These x-ray treatments can be directed in such a way that they destroy the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding normal tissue.

David Meates, Canterbury DHB chief executive, says the new technology will help to enhance the amazing work and care the department already provides to patients.

“The teams deliver an absolutely remarkable service and to ensure they can continue to provide best care possible, it’s vital we’re able to keep up with medical technology advances and ensure our patients have access to those.”

Mr Meates says with the procurement process beginning back in July 2015, the project has involved a wide range of teams across Oncology and the Canterbury DHB in addition to working closely with outside contractors.

“Well done to everyone involved in getting this project to completion. It’s going to make a huge difference to our cancer patients lives,” he says.

The new treatment machine is an Elekta Versa HD Linear Accelerator which is manufactured by the same company that supplied the department’s three other Linear Accelerators. 

Dr Avtar Rainer, Canterbury DHB,  Clinical Director of Radiation Oncology Christchurch Hospital, says the Versa HD is ideal for the latest treatment techniques such as stereotactic radiation therapy, as it provides extreme precision and enhanced conformance to tumour volumes.  

“Technological enhancements with this Linear Accelerator mean we have the potential to deliver complicated techniques in a standard 10-20min slot, which previously would have taken 45-60mins.  This is of great benefit for patients who won’t need to lie still for so long during their radiation treatment.”

Dr Avtar Rainer says the installation and commissioning of a new linear accelerator requires substantial planning and resource, while continuing business as usual.  

“From February through until the end of November the team have committed to shift work, ensuring no patients had their treatment compromised or delayed by the ongoing construction and commissioning work.  The highly professional team have worked hard to continue providing a safe and excellent service for our patients?”

The Radiation Therapy Service is looking forward to the completion of the project in late November, returning to normal services with four fully functioning machines and integrated systems. 

“Next year (2017) will be a year focussed on utilising the new technology available to improve patient experiences and outcomes as well as optimising workflows throughout the Service.” 

The upgraded equipment means that the Canterbury DHB is well positioned to meet the government’s faster cancer treatment program and improving access to cancer services for South Island.

Quicker treatment leads to better outcomes and a better experience of care for patients and their families. The radiation oncology department currently sees 1600 patients per year with an average of 100 treatments bring delivered every day. Treatments are usually given 4 to 5 times a week Monday to Friday for st number of appointments and this allows the delivery of an enough radiation into the body to kill the cancer while giving healthy cells time to recover.

The Radiation Oncology Department does the fantastic job & I know it is greatly appreciated by all of us. 

With Dr Avtar Raina, Radiation Oncologist, David Meates (CEO CDHB) Steve Wakefield (Deputy Chair CDHB  Board)