We warmly welcome the announcement from Federal Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt, of $1.4 million in funding over two years to support the organisation to design and deliver lung health education and training for primary health care professionals.
This significant investment will help improve early diagnosis and health outcomes for those impacted by lung cancer and lung disease.
Lung Foundation Australia will work collaboratively with the Department of Health, the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, Asthma Australia and key research and professional organisations to design and deliver a competency-based training framework, whilst also enhancing existing training opportunities in lung health.
Lung Foundation Australia Chair, Professor Christine Jenkins AM, said the education and training will support early and accurate diagnosis, which in turn leads to better prognosis and health outcomes.
“We hope this marks the beginning of further investments in competency-based lung health education and training,” Professor Jenkins said.
“The availability of the Framework will guide professional and career development opportunities for a range of GPs, primary health care nurses, pharmacists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, supporting them in their everyday clinical practice.
“Ultimately, this is a step toward tackling the rising tide of lung disease in Australia through timely diagnosis and best-practice care.”
Professor Jenkins said for Lung Foundation Australia’s community and the millions of Australians who will be impacted by lung disease and lung cancer, the opportunities provided by this grant mean hope for earlier diagnosis, and ultimately more precious time.
The funding announcement has also been welcomed by leading health professionals and stakeholders nationwide.
Dr Kerry Hancock, General Practitioner and Lung Foundation Australia Primary Care Clinical Advisory Committee Chair, said this would have a beneficial impact on patient outcomes moving forward.
“It will support the upskilling of GPs, practice nurses, pharmacists and other community-based health care practitioners, resulting in improved diagnosis and management for people with chronic respiratory disorders such as COPD, bronchiectasis and lung cancer.”
Dubbo-based nurse practitioner (Chronic and Complex Care) and Primary Care Clinical Advisory Committee Co-Deputy Chair, Michelle Baird, described lung health as “everybody’s business”.
“These funds will enable us to educate for the bush, providing regional, rural and remote health professionals with the opportunity, accessibility and availability to increase their knowledge and skills in their care of persons with lung disease,” Ms Baird said.
Advanced Practice Pharmacist and Primary Care Clinical Advisory Committee Co-Deputy Chair, Associate Professor Debbie Rigby, said the training would enhance knowledge and skills in respiratory care.
“Community pharmacists have many opportunities to enhance quality use of medicines and medicine safety,” she said.
“Medicine safety is a national health priority. Funding for this program will enhance the knowledge and skills of pharmacists to provide better medication management and reduce the incidence of preventable mortality and morbidity for patients living with respiratory conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.”
Along with May’s Federal Budget announcement of nearly $7m towards lung cancer nurses and a national screening program, this $1.4m investment in the education and training of primary care professionals provides further momentum in the fight against lung disease and lung cancer – Australia’s second-biggest killer. This is a landmark time for greater awareness and desperately needed investment.
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National Strategic Action Plan
The delivery of a Lung Health Education and Training Framework for Health Professionals is a key recommendation of Priority 3: Diagnosis, Management and Care (Knowledge translation) of the National Strategic Action Plan for Lung Conditions; the objective of which is to translate science into quality diagnosis, management and care of lung conditions.
The action plan provides a comprehensive, collaborative and evidence-based approach to reducing the individual and societal burden of lung conditions and improving lung health. It addresses the broad spectrum of lung conditions, ranging from the common cold which impacts the health of many Australians and their participation in the workforce, education and social activities, to lung cancer which is Australia’s biggest cancer killer.