A Shorten Labor Government will boost the number of specialised cancer nurses across the country – ensuring that as many cancer patients as possible get specialised care and support.
Labor will more than double the number of federally-funded prostate cancer nurses across the country – working with the Prostate Cancer Foundation to employ an additional 42 nurses across the country, building on the 28 already funded by the Commonwealth.
Labor will also invest in 24 metastatic cancer nurses in hospitals across the country, extending support beyond specialist cancer centres and beyond particular tumour types. This will ensure that the additional support provided by these nurses isn’t just limited to the big cities.
In addition, we will fund Breast Cancer Network Australia to deliver a professional telephone counselling service, staffed by trained metastatic nurses, that is available to all Australians affected by metastatic breast cancer, regardless of where they live. This includes women and men diagnosed and their family members.
We will also provide $4 million to establish a Pancreatic Cancer Patient Hub, connecting pancreatic cancer patients with practitioners, facilities and support services.
These commitments – an investment of $55.7 million – are another plank of Labor’s Medicare Cancer Plan, the most important investment in Medicare since it was created by Bob Hawke.
One in two Australians will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. Cancer is the greatest disease burden in Australia, and it carries the greatest out-of-pocket costs in our healthcare system. Nearly half of Australian cancer patients pay more than $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs over the course of their diagnosis and treatment. More than a quarter of cancer patients pay more than $10,000 out of their own pocket.
Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in Australia and our third most deadly cancer. More than 3,000 Australian men will die from prostate cancer each year, and 20,000 will be diagnosed with it.
The Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurses program provides vital assistance to these men and their families. It places highly trained registered nurses in hospitals and other health settings. They provide expert information and support – for example, by helping men access services outside hospitals and making their journey through our health system easier.
A metastatic cancer nurse provides care to people who have been diagnosed with advanced, or metastatic disease – the stage at which cancer spreads beyond a primary tumour site and is incurable. These nurses provide particularly unique care to a patient and their family, during one of the most challenging times in their lives.
And pancreatic cancer is one of Australia’s deadliest cancers - with a five year survival rate after diagnosis less than ten per cent - in fact, four out of five patients diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer are unable to be operated on, and will die within 12 months of diagnosis.
Building a strong network around people with pancreatic cancer is essential to ensuring them, and their family, are supported.
This builds on Labor’s plans for cheaper cancer scans, cheaper cancer specialist consultations and cheaper cancer medicines. If you need to see a specialist, the Medicare Cancer Plan will cover an additional 2,000 appointments a day – three million specialist consults with no out-of-pocket costs. If you need a cancer scan – every MRI machine, in every postcode, will be eligible for Medicare. If you need a CT scan, an X-Ray, a mammogram, a PET scan – this plan will cut the out-of-pocket costs and provide up to six million free scans.
Labor will reverse the Liberals’ cuts to health, address rising out-of-pocket costs, fund the best cancer care and provide the support Australians need during one of the toughest periods in their lives. We will pay for it by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town. Labor believes it should be your Medicare card, not your credit card, which guarantees access to quality health care in Australia.