Lung cancer

Call for lung cancer specialist nurse funding


The government is being urged to fund specialist lung cancer nurses in the same way as it is already funding specialist nurses for other common cancers.

A petition backed by Lung Foundation Australia calls for this years Federal Budget to provide specialist nursing support to the 12,700 Australians diagnosed with lung cancer each year in a similar way to the recent announcement to expand the number of prostate cancer nurses.

LFA chair and leading respiratory physician Professor Christine Jenkins AM says the petition – the largest in community health this  – simply calls for people with lung cancer to get a fair go.

“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,” she 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.

On 15 June Federal minister for health Greg Hunt announced he would allocate a further $23 million to fund an additional 34 specialist prostate cancer nurses in addition to the 60 nurses already funded by Federal government.

Lung Foundation Australia notes there are around 9,200 deaths annually from lung cancer, almost three-times that of prostate cancer. And despite lung cancer having a five year survival rate of just 17% compared to 95% for prostate cancer, Australians diagnosed with the country’s biggest cancer killer continue to go without best-practice nurse care.

“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 the [15 June] 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,” said Professor Jenkins.

In 2019 the Federal government allocated an additional $28 million to fund a further 60 breast cancer nurses, to bring the total number of specialist breast cancer nurses in Australia to 117.

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