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Media releases 15 May 2023

BCNA Welcomes Investment in Health Workforce to Support those with Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) – Australia’s leading breast cancer consumer organisation – welcomes the Federal Government’s investment into improving access to multidisciplinary allied and supportive care, announced in this week’s Federal Budget.  

BCNA looks forward to working with government and the sector to understand how these announcements can best improve outcomes for those living with breast cancer.  

‘It is crucial that when someone is being treated for breast cancer all their care needs are supported. This includes a multidisciplinary team of health professionals at diagnosis, during treatment and beyond. This must be affordable and easily accessible,’ says BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti.

'We welcome the $5.7 billion announced in this year’s budget to implement recommendations from the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report over the next five years to incentivise and improve access to multidisciplinary health professionals through primary care.  

'This will help support greater equity of access to general practice, reduce financial barriers and increase the number of allied health services that are often only available in a hospital setting for those with cancer.’  

These budget announcements align with BCNA’s key policy and advocacy priorities - living well, with and beyond breast cancer. 

The $5.7 billion includes $445.1 million to expand and support the healthcare workforce with a particular focus on increasing access to nurse practitioners and allied health professionals.

A further $79.4 million is committed to support commissioning of allied health services for people with chronic conditions in underserviced areas to help bridge the care gap.

Our network of those living with breast cancer continue to report the growing issue of accessing primary care, in many cases due to the increased out of pocket costs. This increasing financial burden contributes to the financial toxicity associated with a cancer diagnosis.’

The further commitment to support primary health with $3.5 billion towards increasing bulkbilling is a welcome relief, Ms Pilatti says.

Although BCNA supports this commitment to boost primary care, BCNA also encourages the government to improve and invest in patient-navigation to support patients to access these services when and how they need them.

BCNA also welcomes the $238.5 million investment to improve First Nations cancer outcomes through increased early detection, navigation and health promotion as a significant step in addressing the care gap for this population.   

While BCNA acknowledges the government’s $556.2 million investment into strengthening Australia’s mental health support and suicide prevention, it calls on government to bring consumers and consumer organisations to the table to implement some tangible short-term solutions to urgently improve mental health support for those with chronic comorbidities such as cancer. 

‘Limited access to mental health support is one of the largest barriers to improving cancer outcomes, and our network is in desperate need of investment into these services,' Ms Pilatti says.