Vic MP sorry for 'uncaring' cancer comment

·2-min read

A Victorian minister has apologised after making an "uncaring" comment about a cancer patient who drove to South Australia for an urgent scan.

Kylie Hennessy said she was forced to make the 1600 kilometre round trip from Melbourne to Adelaide last week for a preparatory scan on a brain tumour.

Diagnosed with cancer in August, the 50-year-old mother needed a functional MRI (fMRI) scan ahead of surgery booked on Tuesday.

Melbourne has four fMRIs but at the time two of the specialist machines were offline at The Alfred and Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said Ms Hennessy was not informed other machines were available due to a "miscommunication", before she made arrangements to travel interstate.

"The work that was being done to ensure that Ms Hennessy could receive the fMRI at the Florey Institute was not communicated to her in a timely way," she told reporters on Wednesday.

Earlier, Victorian Education Minister Natalie Hutchins said medical equipment is unavailable from time to time.

"I do know, from my experience in the health system, that sometimes you've just got to roll with the punches," she said.

Ms Hutchins later apologised to Ms Hennessy while recounting her own cancer experience after caring for her late husband, former Labor senator Steve Hutchins, before his death in 2017 aged 61.

"I understand this may have caused some distress and I am sorry that this has happened," she tweeted.

The Victorian opposition branded the remark "uncaring" and said it illustrated the Andrews government was "out of touch".

"This is a government that is just full of excuses. They've had years to invest in the system and they have failed," opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said.

The brain scan miscommunication comes as a peak body warned Victorian hospital patients could be worse off if state health funding doesn't keep pace with skyrocketing inflation.

The Victorian Healthcare Association said rising inflation has effectively cut hospital funding during record-breaking demand.

It wants the Labor and the coalition to commit to hospital funding increases that meet or beat inflation over the next four years, as part of its policy platform for the November state election.

"When health budgets don't match or exceed inflation, public health services have to limit how many health workers they can recruit and how many services they can deliver," VHA deputy chief executive Juan Paolo Legaspi said.

"All of this affects how many patients they can treat and how quickly they can provide treatment."

Annual inflation hit 6.1 per cent to June 2022 but health-related cost increases were less onerous, growing by 2.4 per cent.

Ms Thomas insists funding for Victorian health services is keeping pace with inflation, saying it increased by seven per cent over the past 12 months.