In spite of rumblings to the contrary, local cancer patients will continue to be permitted to receive treatment where they choose, the Montreal Health Agency confirmed Tuesday.

“By law, any person living in Quebec can decide where they want to receive care,” said Frederic Abergel of the Montreal Health Agency.

Some in the health system had expressed disapproval concerning proposals that patients be forced to seek care near their homes.

“I think for us it is unethical for us to tell them to go away, to be treated in another centre,” said Dr. Bassam Abdulkarim, Associate Professor of Oncology at the Montreal General Hospital. “What we're saying is that the patient should be the priority.”

Abergel agreed that the current practice has proved effective and collaboration between specialists has helped.

“The doctors who do radiation therapy talk to each other, they know which cases they can do and which cases they cannot do. They transfer patients between themselves and this will continue," he said.

However as of April, the government will fund treatment on a per-patient basis, rather than by regular budgeted payments sent to the health care institutions.

“We get information about the patient they are treating and we pay," said Abergel. "So we're just adjusting the budget to follow where the patient is going."