Cancer Society launches complaint after cancer patient sent to isolation

The Cancer Society has lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman after a cancer patient had to go into managed isolation in Rotorua.

The man,a cancer patient, and his wife had exemption to isolate at home after returning from Australia, but it was revoked.

The pair who don't want to be named, are cooped up inside an Ibis hotel in Rotorua.

They are six days into their 14-day managed isolation, after returning from Australia, where the man was getting cancer treatment.

“Like everybody else here, we're just sitting in our room.”

The couple say they had an exemption to self-isolate at home in Christchurch, close to the patient's doctors and a local cancer unit. But before their return on Saturday they were told they would instead be sent to Rotorua.

“I'm quite disgusted that they don't do more for people who have gone over for treatment. Treatment which could prolong the man's life by five years - he's only part way through it. With the nearest specialist facility in Auckland - there are concerns for his health,” the wife says.

Lucy Elwood, Cancer Society CEO says: “His temperature was lower than you'd hope yesterday, and so if it drops further then you'd need to move him to hospital, well now he's probably 3 and a half hours away.”

The Ministry of Health says the couple had pre-approval to self-isolate at home, but only if there was a suitable flight from Auckland to Christchurch. It was declined after their travel and treatment was delayed and a managed isolation charter flight wasn't available.

But the Cancer Society says those who travel overseas for specialist health services need to have their health needs better managed.

“There are a number of aspects of this case that has eroded that confidence.” Elwood says.

The pair are supposed to head back to Australia for treatment in August but are worried what will happen on their return.

“He's got one more to go, we're sitting here saying don't want to do this again.

Even if it means giving up the chance of a longer life,” the wife says.