A PETITION tabled in Parliament on Wednesday – the largest community health petition presented this year – urgently calls for the government to fund specialist lung cancer nurses in this year’s Federal Budget to provide critical support to the 12,700 Australians diagnosed with lung cancer each year.
Lung Foundation Australia Chair and leading respiratory physician Professor Christine Jenkins AM says the organisation and the lung cancer community have been fighting for a fair go for too long.
“The Australian Government has invested significantly in specialist nurses for breast cancer and prostate cancer and we have seen this greatly improve outcomes for these patients. There’s no reason why lung cancer patients shouldn’t receive the same care and support,” Prof Jenkins said.
“Australia is lagging behind many other nations in the delivery of best-practice clinical care for lung cancer patients, with as few as 12 full-time equivalent specialist nurses – that’s less than one nurse per 1,000 people diagnosed each year.
“We know the Federal Government has previously indicated that funding for lung cancer nurses is a state and territory responsibility, yet it’s clear from Monday’s announcement of additional funding for prostate cancer nurses that this is not the case for other cancers. Once again, we’re left wondering why lung cancer patients are being treated differently.”
Each year more than 9,000 Australians will lose their life to lung cancer, almost three-times that of prostate cancer. Despite lung cancer having a survival rate of just 17% after 5 years compared to 95% for prostate cancer, Australians diagnosed with the country’s biggest cancer killer continue to go without best-practice nurse care.
Young father of three, Bruno Galgano, who lives with Stage IV lung cancer, met with the Prime Minister, The Hon. Scott Morrison, last year and says it’s time for the government to stop ignoring the evidence.
“There’s no use in the PM sending me a Christmas card hoping for the best for me. Lung cancer patients can’t live on hope alone. Our families can’t live on hope alone,” Mr Galgano said.
“We need real help now in the form of nurses, who will help us survive long enough to get to the next Christmas. The dismissive attitude we get from so many politicians is brutal. Why don’t they have the courage to stand up for Australians fighting the cancer that kills more Australians than any other?
“Why is the government ignoring the evidence? Why are they not listening to the thousands of Australians fighting to survive?”
Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke says it’s critical the government fund specialist nurses in this year’s Budget.
“This is the only way we will see equity and improved outcomes for the thousands of Australians diagnosed with this devastating disease every year. We’re not prepared to wait another 12 months, or 9,000 lives, to achieve basic, best-practice clinical care that other cancer patients take for granted,” Mr Brooke said.
“It’s time to give Australians living with lung cancer a fair go.”
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