It’s been 11 months since the State Government promised a PET scanner for Wollongong Hospital and the cancer-detecting machine hasn’t even been ordered yet.
NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner admitted in parliament last week that while a tenderer had been selected, the order had not yet been placed.
In response to a parliamentary question from Shellharbour MP Anna Watson, Ms Skinner said that the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District was in negotiations with Healthcare Imaging Services Pty Ltd to finalise ‘‘contractual arrangements’’.
‘‘When contracts are finalised the preferred proponent will place the order for the PET scanner,’’ she said.
‘‘The lead time for delivery of the machine is 12 to 16 weeks depending upon which supplier is selected.’’
Ms Watson said that timeframe called into question the government’s own timetable for installing the machine.
‘‘The NSW Government announced in early June 2013 that a preferred tenderer had been selected and that within six months the new PET scan machine would be installed at Wollongong Hospital,’’ she said.
‘‘...I am disappointed that the NSW Government appears to have given an impression to the local community that the only thing stopping the delivery and installation of the PET scanner has been that it is being built overseas.
‘‘...It now looks extremely unlikely the government will be able to meet its own six-month deadline.’’
However a spokeswoman for Ms Skinner, who is on leave, said the order for the scanner would be placed ‘‘shortly’’ with delivery expected by the end of the year. The PET scanner would be available for use in early 2014.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward said while he would have liked the process to have run more smoothly, the scanner would be delivered as soon as possible.
‘‘[Anna Watson] talks about delays – how about the 16 years that they were in government and didn’t act?’’ he said.
‘‘People are well aware that since this [state Liberal] government came to office we have worked assiduously to install this machine.
‘‘Have there been difficulties with its installation? Absolutely. Getting a machine, getting it purpose-built and getting it installed is a difficult process. But it is coming.’’
Mr Ward told NSW Parliament in October 2012 Wollongong Hospital would get a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner.
Illawarra Cancer Carers had tabled a petition with more than 30,000 signatures for the scanner and the region’s Liberal and Labor MPs worked together to secure it.
Illawarra Cancer Carers’ president Ian Mackay said it was disappointing that the scanner was yet to be ordered.
‘‘It again defers the opportunity for patients to have their diagnosis done in Wollongong and they will have to continue to travel to Sydney for these scans,’’ he said.
The scanner will be at Wollongong Hospital, run by a private operator but funded by the government for public inpatients.