A WA mining company is offering a $200,000 bonus for a doctor prepared to come to WA for two years to provide radiation therapy to children with cancer.
Gold company Northern Star Resources, which operates the Paulsens mine near Paraburdoo, said the payment would be on top of what the WA Health Department paid a new radiation oncologist.
The offer comes after The West Australian this week revealed the plight of three-year-old Princess Margaret Hospital cancer patient Archie Caldow, who has to go to Sydney for radiation therapy this month because there is no one in WA to treat him.
Health authorities failed to find another doctor to cover when the State’s only paediatric radiation oncologist goes on a month’s leave, her first holiday in seven years.
The department is paying the travel costs of Archie and one carer but his parents Richard and Claire want the whole family, including his three siblings, to go to Sydney so they are not separated for four weeks or more.
Northern Star managing director Bill Beament was shocked that there was no back-up specialist.
“I couldn’t believe that in a State like this that sort of thing could happen,” he said.
“My three kids are very healthy but they’ve been in and out of PMH at different times since they were born, because it’s the place you go.
“We’ve had a great run as a company and most of our shareholders are WA-based, so this struck a chord with me, my wife and the other directors who have kids and grandkids.”
Mr Beament said he would write to Health Minister Kim Hames detailing the offer of $100,000 a year for two years as a top-up to whatever the State Government paid.
Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, which co-ordinates public cancer staff, will soon advertise for two radiation oncologists and hopes to fill the vacancies within six months. At least one will start training soon after their appointment.
The positions will be advertised only in Australia and New Zealand because radiation oncologists have to be accredited by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiation Oncologists.
Mr Beament said the private sector sometimes had to top up wages to attract skilled people in demand.
“I appreciate the stress for that family who don’t want to be separated,” he said.