Flood of support for family
Claire and Richard Caldow with three-year-old Archie. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

The family of three-year-old cancer patient Archie Caldow say they have been "blown away" by the offers of support and encouragement from people touched by their plight.

Richard and Claire Caldow revealed this week their frustration at a system that meant their son had to go to Sydney to have vital radiation therapy because no replacement has been found for the State's only paediatric specialist who is going on leave.

They are paying for their family, including Archie's three siblings, to go to Sydney so they are not separated while he has treatment for aggressive neuroblastoma. The Health Department is paying the costs for Archie and one parent.

_The West Australian _received several offers of money to help the family but Mr Caldow said he and his wife had spoken out not to seek donations but to make the public aware of a situation that should have been prevented.

"We just hope something will change so other parents don't have to uproot their families in the way we will have to," he said.

The State Government defended the decision to send some children interstate for treatment, saying it was unusual but unavoidable.

Premier Colin Barnett said there were very few people qualified in radiotherapy for paediatric cancers.

"The person in WA who has that responsibility is taking leave . . . you have to have leave some time," he said.

"In this case the child and the parent will be flown across to Sydney and that child will receive the best possible care."

Mr Barnett denied there would be additional staffing problems when the new children's hospital opened at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital because services at Princess Margaret Hospital would simply transfer to the new site.

It was revealed yesterday that two extra positions for radiation oncologists announced in the May State Budget are yet to be advertised.

Health Minister Kim Hames said the recruitment process was under way but there was a national shortage of paediatric radiation oncologists.

It is understood the jobs will offer pay of at least $300,000 depending on the doctor's experience.

A spokeswoman for Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital said the positions were expected to be advertised nationally in the next few weeks and filled within six months.

Because of the relatively low number of patients requiring paediatric care, those appointed would be responsible for providing treatment for adults and children.

The West Australian

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