Health minister promises dying dad that NZ will improve cancer treatment

Author
Emma Russell, NZ Herald,
Section
Health,
Publish Date
Thursday, 31 January 2019, 2:56PM
Blair and Melissa Vining with their two girls Della-May, 17, and Lilly, 12, - had their world tipped upside down after Blair's deadly cancer diagnosis. (Photo / Supplied)
Blair and Melissa Vining with their two girls Della-May, 17, and Lilly, 12, - had their world tipped upside down after Blair's deadly cancer diagnosis. (Photo / Supplied)

Health Minister David Clark promised to harness "a once in a lifetime" opportunity to improve treatment for New Zealanders battling cancer this morning at today's international Cancer Crossroads Conference in Wellington.

The minister spoke directly to Blair Vining - the father dying of bowel cancer who says he has been let down by the health system after he was told to wait eight weeks for a life-threatening appointment.

"Minister of Health, it's great to see you here. However, I want you to know you have failed my husband and you have failed many other New Zealanders by not having a cancer plan," Blair's wife Melissa said in front of a crowd of 400 people.

Clark responded by saying he acknowledged the need for improvement for cancer control in New Zealand and ensured the Government was working hard to improve it.

"I am personally concerned about the growing equalities [to access health care] and that is the main reason I chose to get involved in politics," Clark said.

He thanked Blair and Melissa for their bravery to share their story and encouraged others to give feedback online to the Health Select Committee as a part of a wider health system review.

The interim report of that review was due back to the Minister in August and the final report in March next year.

There is a "diverse and influential group of people" gathered here today and I would like to take the opportunity to listen, Clark said.

Meanwhile Blair, 38, had just months to live.

The Vinings - who were speaking at today's conference to share their story - stressed their anguish was not against the doctors but the system.

Part of Blair's bucket list was to help change the system.

"People try to opt for help and can't access that help, which is just so wrong," Melissa told the Herald.

"I will keep fighting until we see change," Melissa said.

 

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