Lung Foundation Australia has welcomed a $15 million funding promise to employ the first wave of lung cancer clinical nurse specialists.
The ALP also announced a $63.4 million investment to introduce the next National Tobacco Campaign which will include a reboot of anti-smoking campaigns.
“We warmly welcome both announcements today. These are much-needed investments when it comes to reducing tobacco consumption, and separately, which will ensure all Australians living with lung cancer – regardless of how these people acquired their condition – receive the specialist nurse care their condition deserves,” Lung Foundation Australia CEO, Mark Brooke said.
“Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. So whilst we absolutely encourage smoking cessation, we must also stress that it doesn’t matter how someone is diagnosed with lung cancer. All Australians living with and impacted by the disease deserve our utmost care and support. Cancer is cancer.”
“Stigma has long acted as a barrier to treatment, care and support of lung cancer, hence the significance of today’s announcement, which recognises – for the first time – the impact this has on the lung cancer community.”
The dire need for lung cancer care nurses is an issue Lung Foundation Australia has long campaigned for over the last 18 months, pushing hard for a model of care similar to breast cancer, which has seen significantly better outcomes for patients.
“This funding announcement is a step in the right direction after many years of advocating for better access to treatment, support and care for thousands of Australians who have, for too long, been left to feel like they got what they deserved,” Mr Brooke said.
In October 2018, Lung Foundation Australia released the ground-breaking report, Making Lung Cancer a Fair Fight: A Blueprint for Reform. The report highlights the burden and challenges faced by Australians living with lung cancer and includes three priorities: equitable access to treatment and care, stigma experienced by patients and the need for psychosocial support. The first recommendation in the report includes increasing the availability of lung cancer clinical nurse specialists and care coordinatorsi.
“There are too few clinical nurse specialists to give the care patients desperately need. For too long, the stigma associated with lung cancer has acted as a barrier to funding for treatment, support and care,” Mr Brooke said.
“We know that 28% of patients aren’t staged when diagnosed, potentially missing out on life-changing treatment and care. In fact, 20% do not receive any treatment following diagnosis. Clinical nurse specialists play a key role in helping to facilitate timely access to care.
“In the complex and difficult to navigate health care system, these nurses are fundamental to ensuring people receive the right treatment and care. We’ve seen the considerable benefits for breast cancer patients and it’s time we saw the same access to care and support for people living with lung cancer.
“We’re humbled to see lung cancer finally getting the recognition it needs to start improving outcomes for those to come. This commitment is a step in the right direction, however funding for better access to treatment, support and care must remain a partisan issue. Lung cancer will need continued funding and attention to address the inequality towards lung cancer patients.
“This announcement today motivates us more than ever to continue the fight for cancer equality.” The commitment includes $2.4 million for campaigns focused on tackling stigma, and occupational hazards which cause lung cancer.
The announcement follows the release of two hard-hitting campaigns featuring patients and health professionals calling on government to start giving lung cancer a fair go.
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