'Massive support' as petition closes

Blair Vining
Blair Vining
The final days of Blair Vining's petition for better cancer care in New Zealand are over.

In total, more than 140,715 people signed the petition, which closed last night.

It called for the creation of a "national cancer agency to address New Zealand's cancer death rates, with responsibility for oversight of prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship, which should be well-funded and free from political interference, and should benchmark outcomes and report to the public".

Melissa Vining, wife of the dying Southland man, said a huge number of people had signed in the past few days - more than 10,000 in the final days.

"We're so grateful for all the support and what it means to so many New Zealanders ... there's been massive support from Dunedin in the last few days which we're really grateful for."

Mr Vining was given eight weeks to live after being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in October last year.

When told he would have to wait six to eight weeks to begin treatment at Southland Hospital, the family decided to pay for private healthcare.

The petition ran a week longer than originally intended, as the government website crashed, meaning some signatures were not counted.

Originally, the petition was to be delivered to local MPs Michael Woodhouse and Hamish Walker at a "Final Farewell" held at the end of last month.

Mr Vining's daughter, Lilly, also wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, asking her to deliver on promises made before the election, to which she received a reply.

Ms Vining said the reply was "warm and personable", and acknowledged the need for better healthcare, but did not make any commitments in regard to Mr Vining's petition.

Health Minister David Clark had previously said he was aware wait times for some cancer patients were unacceptably long.

"It has been clear for many years that we can and must do better for cancer sufferers," he said.


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