Minister for Health Geoff Wilson said he was delighted at the arrival of this vital equipment which will provide improved cancer services for North Queensland residents.

“Once assembled, these linear accelerators will form the machines that administer radiation therapy to locals needing treatment,” Mr Wilson said.

“The first patients are expected to receive their radiation oncology treatment when the service commences in mid-2011.

“This is more evidence of the Bligh Government’s commitment to providing cancer services to Queenslanders closer to where they live.”

Member for Cairns Desley Boyle was pleased locals would be able to receive radiation treatment closer to home for the first time ever.

“This will mean an extra 340 patients will no longer need to travel to Townsville or Brisbane to receive their treatment,” Ms Boyle said.

“The arrival of the linear accelerators makes our new radiation oncology centre a reality.”

Member for Barron River Steve Wettenhall said the delivery of the machines was a complex process which would be handled by a team of experts.

“The heaviest part of each linear accelerator weighs 6.2 tonnes and after assembly, the total weight of each machine is nine tonnes,” Mr Wettenhall said.

“The linear accelerators will arrive in five trucks and each machine is in four separate parts to enable it to be manoeuvred through the entrance and into the specially constructed concrete bunkers.

“A crane will be used to unload the parts and then around 15 people in the rigging team will use air skates – four mini-hovercrafts that are 45 centimetres in diameter – to lift and manoeuvre the sections through the building.”

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said each state-of-the-art linear accelerator would be assembled inside its own bunker which has been constructed with up to one metre thick concrete walls and roof.

“One of the incredible features of the linear accelerator is that nine tonnes of machinery is able to rotate 360 degrees around the patient to deliver radiation therapy while maintaining an accuracy of less than one millimetre,” Mr Pitt said.

“It will take four weeks to assemble each machine and then a further eight weeks in calibration, testing and safety assurance to bring them online.”

Member for Cook Jason O’Brien said work is continuing on fitting out the interior of the new Cancer Care Centre at the hospital which will accommodate the new $5.5 million radiation oncology equipment, software and related equipment that was delivered today.

“The radiation oncology service will be fully integrated with other cancer services currently at the hospital including day chemotherapy, specialist outpatient cancer care clinics, surgical and medical services, and palliative care,” Mr O’Brien said.

The Commonwealth Government has contributed $8.3 million to the construction of the new radiation oncology facility.

The radiation oncology service, including the two linear accelerators, will be run by Radiation Oncology Queensland, who was announced as the operator in November 2010 to provide public radiation oncology services in the area.

The new cancer care facility will be an important part of the State Government’s $454.6 million redevelopment of the Cairns Base Hospital, which is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2014.

When complete, the redeveloped hospital will provide new and improved health services, including:

  • the ambulatory cancer care centre with the new radiation oncology service for those requiring cancer treatment
  • additional cardiac care facilities for patients with heart related illnesses
  • additional surgical capacity including increased day surgery
  • expanded intensive care capacity
  • expanded birthing services, special care nursery and a new low risk birth centre
  • additional aged care and rehabilitation services
  • additional beds for mental health services.