AS a sea of pink saturated the Sydney Cricket Ground for the Third Test between Australia and South Africa, Lismore MP Janelle Saffin felt extremely pleased of NSW Labor’s commitment to significantly boost funding to the McGrath Breast Care Nurses network.
NSW Labor on Saturday announced a Minns Labor Government will ensure New South Wales will become the first state in Australia where every person with breast cancer will be able to receive the free care and support of a breast cancer nurse, committing $19.5 million over three years to fund an additional 29 McGrath Breast Care Nurses across New South Wales.
This funding will provide an additional nurse for the Northern NSW Local Health District and six additional nurses to the Hunter-New England Local Health District.
Ms Saffin said: “I’m extremely pleased with this announcement. We know that the Northern Rivers region suffered a difficult year in 2022, the floods greatly impacted access to essential services and continue to have devastating impacts on flood survivors’ day-to-day lives.
‘NSW Labor’s announcement offers local women some certainty that if they are diagnosed with breast cancer, they will have access the specialised care and support,” Ms Saffin said.
“In respect to the extra resourcing that would go to the Hunter-New England LHD, I have sought and secured a commitment that Tenterfield women needing this crucial service will have additional access.”
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, with 20,428 women and 212 men being diagnosed annually in Australia.
Currently, eight McGrath Breast Care Nurses are funded by the NSW Government. The Government only last Friday (6 January) committed to continuing this funding.
Eight more were previously funded by the state government but the funding was cancelled in 2021. They are now forced to rely on donations.
McGrath Breast Care Nurses are registered nurses, specially trained to provide invaluable physical, psychological and emotional support, from the time of diagnosis and throughout treatment throughout the course of their treatment. To date 48,000 families across New South Wales have been supported by a McGrath Breast Cancer Nurse.
A McGrath Breast Care Nurse in a full-time position supports on average 100 patients per year, with 90 per cent of women in Australia living within 75 kilometres of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse.
Research shows that getting early access within the first weeks to a dedicated nurse significantly improves the experience and outcomes of a person with breast cancer, including a reduction in emergency department presentations, reduction in clinical consulting time, and improved medical appointment attendance.
The key is that patients have access to the same nurse throughout their treatment.