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$148 million to fight against cancer, $55 million for a 24-hour medical advice line.



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Jenny Macklin - $148 Million To Fight Against Cancer - $55 Million For A 24-Hour Medical Advice Line http://www.alp.org.au//media/0501/jmmsairp240501.html Friday, 25 May 2001

$148 Million To Fight Against Cancer -$55 Million For A 24-Hour Medical Advice Line Jenny Macklin - Shadow Minister for Health

Media Statement - 24 May 2001

A Beazley Labor Government will commit $148 million over the next three years to mount a national Fight against Cancer, Shadow Minister for Health Jenny Macklin, said tonight.

"Labor's plan to fight against cancer is aimed at cutting the number of people who develop cancer and further increasing the survival rate of those who have it," Ms Macklin said.

"A Prime Minister's Cancer Advisory Panel will be established to develop national strategies and produce an Australian Cancer Plan in its first 12 months.

"We will also build a new National Cancer Alliance to link our scientists with cancer specialists and we will create Comprehensive Cancer Centres to enhance treatment services.

"We will tackle the causes of cancer - the most notorious being tobacco. In 1999, 21 per cent of adult Australians smoked. Labor will set itself a target to reduce this to 15 per cent within five years. This will have a significant long-term effect on the number of people who get lung cancer.

"The funds will also enable a major Melanoma Screening Trial in Queensland to be conducted and we will begin the important bowel cancer screening trial. In addition Labor will redesign the Government's cervical cancer screening program and create specific community based and outreach services that will better target women who are not using the current programs.

"Patient care is at the heart of Labor's Cancer Plan and the services cancer patient receive will be improved by reforming the hospital pharmaceutical system to enable patients to access specialist cancer drugs as outpatients at home," Ms Macklin said.

"Clinical trials for new cancer treatments will also be boosted to allow Australian researchers to test the most promising new cancer treatments and introduce innovation into medical practice. Clinical Cancer

Registers in major hospitals will be established to improve the quality of treatment through the use of best practice treatment guidelines.

"Radiotherapy services will be updated and expanded and staffing shortages addressed as part of Labor's Medicare Alliance which will be announced separately.

Ms Macklin also said that Labor would provide $55 million over its first three years to establish a 24-hour medical phone service, as part of its Medicare After Hours Policy.

Labor's Medicare After Hours policy establishes new after hours medical services so that Australians do not have to wait too long at night or on weekends to see a doctor.

"This new service will be a truly national scheme to ensure all Australians can access after hours medical care. The service has two parts - GP After Hours services established on a co-operative basis in each region and a 24-hour medical advice line staffed by nurses under the supervision of doctors.

"When a parent is confronted with a medical emergency or is anxious about their child's health they need immediate medical advice. Labor's 24-hour phone line will give them basic advice and direct callers to the best place to get more help," Ms Macklin said.

"The 24-hour medical advice line will be supported by a web site with comprehensive information and a book for parents will be distributed through pharmacies to give them important information.

The new service will be implemented State by State over a two year period, as the appropriate arrangements are put in place and will be able to handle over a million calls in its third year. Discussions will be held with the Western Australian Government concerning its existing "Health Direct" service and the ACT Government concerning its "Health First" service with a view to developing them to be part of the delivery of the national service.

"Tuesday's night budget included a very weak imitation of Labor's Medicare After Hours Policy, but the Government's copycat proposal is not national and does not include a 24-hour phone advice line." Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

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