Opposition Leader Dwight Ball says a Liberal government would include radiation services in a new hospital planned for Corner Brook, something the governing Tories are not sure is affordable.
Ball told a public meeting in Corner Brook on Tuesday night that a dedicated unit is a necessity for the long-planned hospital, which will eventually replace the aging Western Memorial Regional Hospital.
The government says space is being put aside for a scanner in the future hospital, but a review is being launched on new radiology equipment, including on whether demographic demand in the area justifies the expense.
Ball said the radiology service would be well worth the cost, estimated to be as much as $8 million.
"That's the reason why the numbers are there to support the need," Ball told about 50 people who turned out for the meeting.
"When you look at it, the infrastructure cost and the upfront cost, when you are looking at a new hospital over 50 to 60 years, [the cost is] not extremely high. But yet, it's extremely beneficial to the people that need the service."
'Keep the pressure on'
Gerald Parsons, who is advocating for radiation services, said public pressure will be necessary on politicians of all stripes.
"This is not done — this is just a commitment. We need to keep the pressure on the next government to make sure this is done," Parsons said.
"We knew that we could support radiation unit here in Corner Brook. And we've had meetings with other people — they said the same thing," said Parsons, adding that some patients are not receiving proper treatment already because of the cost and trouble of travel.
"There's probably 40 per cent of the people that's not doing radiation. They are sick or too old to go. They can't afford to go," said Parsons.
"They are opting not to go and leave their family."
In its most recent budget, the government said it had earmarked $588 million in its long-term infrastructure plan for the construction of Western Memorial Regional Hospital. In the coming year, the government intends to issue a request for proposals on the design of the five-building complex.