Lung cancer advocates have launched a petition calling for government funding for 15 specialist lung cancer nurses.
Led by Lung Foundation Australia, the petition was launched this week at the 2020 Lung Cancer Conference to ask for the specialist nurses to be funded in this year’s federal budget. The signatures gathered will be handed to the House of Representatives in March.
Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke said the petition draws attention to the “disparity in treatment faced by Australians diagnosed with lung cancer” given that the federal government funds 98 specialist breast and 62 prostate cancer nurses – but none for lung cancer.
This is despite it being Australia’s leading cause of cancer death, and it accounts for more deaths by cancer than breast, ovarian and prostate cancers combined.
Australia currently has the full-time equivalent of only 12 specialist lung care nurses supporting more than 12 thousand new lung cancer cases diagnosed each year.
“The critical shortage of specialist lung cancer nurses in Australia is simply unacceptable and it is compromising quality of care,” Brooke said.
“Our lung cancer patients are tired of being treated like second class citizens. They need and deserve the same access to quality care as those diagnosed with any other cancer.”
The key role of specialist lung cancer nurses is to advocate for patients and support them and their families by helping them to understand their cancer and treatment options. They also make sure patients get appropriate initial treatment and coordinated follow-up attention in the longer term.
Lung Foundation Australia says studies show access to specialist cancer nurses improves patient quality of life, increases survival rates and reduces rates of hospital admissions.
“The shortage of lung cancer nurses is inconsistent with evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and international best-practice and is in stark contrast to the support provided to other cancer patients,” Brooke said.
“We urge everyone to sign this position to help us call on the government to fund this essential life-changing support for lung cancer patients.”
To view and sign the petition go to https://www.lungfoundation.com.au/petition/.
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