Where is the compassion for cancer patients? Is where to receive vital cancer treatment now going to be simply a matter of what postal code you live in?

The provincial government’s proposal to stop Montreal’s teaching hospitals from providing radiation therapy to cancer patients who live off-island, or to have doctors treat them without pay, might sound ridiculous if it weren’t so alarming.

But “repatriation” is the new buzz word in health care, threatening off-island access to Montreal Island teaching hospitals.

University teaching hospitals that provide advanced cancer treatments have benefitted from the generosity of private donors. Should these benefactors be denied cancer care in their hospital of choice? Should not off-island cancer patients who have been kept alive as a result of advanced treatments received in Montreal Island hospitals be grandfathered? Will community facilities really be able to provide necessary and up-to-date quality care? Will they receive adequate funding to ensure this? If so, over what time-frame?

Lisa Rosati-White is secretary of the McGill University Health Centre’s patients’ committee and is writing on behalf of oncology patients.

Read the full story in The Gazette.

March 12, 2014