Cancer in the budget – state & federal summary

Wednesday 1 August, 2012

Victorian budget summary

Cancer Council Victoria welcomed recurrent funding for the Victorian Cancer Agency of $14.9 million from 2012/13. The investment in radiotherapy in South Western Victoria, chemotherapy in Seymour and supportive care in the Geelong Hospital redevelopment are also welcomed. Cancer Council Victoria also supports the funding for social marketing campaigns focused on healthy living and obesity prevention, and the ongoing funding for cancer screening and screening participation programs. Cancer Council Victoria was disappointed that social marketing for the Quit and SunSmart campaigns will be lower in 2012/13. We'll continue to work with the Victorian Government to identify funds for these important public health campaigns. 

The Victorian Cancer Action Plan is expiring and we'll work with the Victorian Government on the replacement for this plan. If you're interested in participating in discussions on the Victorian plan for cancer, please register your interest with us via clinicalnetwork@cancervic.org.au.

Programs of note

Victorian Cancer Agency

The Victorian Government has committed $59.6 million over the next four years through the Victorian Cancer Agency to fund research into cancer. This funding is recurrent with $14.9 million available each year after 2016/17.

In his press release the Minister for Health, David Davis said, "Our initiative supports the activities of several cancer research and treatment facilities, including the $1 billion Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre, the Olivia Newton John Cancer & Wellness Centre, Monash Comprehensive Cancer Consortium and the regional cancer centres. The funding will help to ensure these centres work together and maintain a state-wide focus... the Victorian Cancer Agency would support the development of the integrated cancer network that would be in place across the state by 2016."

Of particular interest is the reference to the "integrated cancer research platform that builds on and links existing research infrastructure".

This will include BioBank and potentially Biogrid but details are not currently available as to how much funding will be set aside for the integrated data platform and which entities will be part of this.

Cancer treatment services in Warrnambool

Radiotherapy services at Warrnambool have been funded as part of the coalition election commitment ($2 million 2012–13, $1.4 million in 2013–14, $3.4 million 2014–15).  The media release however states that it may not be in Warrnambool "having a facility in Warrnambool or elsewhere in the south-west will mean patients will be able to stay in their own community where they are supported by family and friends while undergoing cancer treatment." 

Chemotherapy services at Seymour Hospital

There is funding for $2 million for chemotherapy services at Seymour Hospital ($.2 million in 2012-13 and $1.8 million in 2013-14)

Supportive cancer centre as part of Geelong Hospital major upgrade

Geelong Hospital will receive $93.3 million for the expansion of capacity at the hospital.  The funding includes $67.2 million from the State Government and $26.1 million in Commonwealth funding.

Minister Davis' media release noted:

"The works will provide a wellness centre at the hospital for cancer patients to provide them with information, support and co-ordination as they progress through their treatment journey. The Coalition Government's commitment to cancer support and treatment for the Geelong community includes a third linear accelerator, to be installed and commissioned in an existing radiotherapy bunker"
Budget funding, in conjunction with a Commonwealth commitment, will also see a 20-bed accommodation unit built off-site to provide cancer patients who have travelled to Geelong for radiotherapy and other treatment with somewhere to stay." 

Existing capital projects for cancer services in Victoria

Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (includes Commonwealth funding)

  • Total investment: $14.2 million
  • Total spent to date: $3.8 million
  • Estimated expenditure in 2012–13: $10.4 million

Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre Stage 2A

  • Total investment: $40 million
  • Total spent to date: $29 million
  • Estimated expenditure 2012-13: $10 million
  • Remainder: $1 million

Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre – Stage 2B

  • Total investment: $32 million
  • Total spent to date: $3.8 million
  • Estimated expenditure in 2012–13: $28.2 million
  • Existing projects with Commonwealth funding

Gippsland Cancer Centre Expansion (Traralgon)

  • Total investment: $22million
  • Total spent to date $3.88 million
  • Estimated expenditure 2012–13: $18.120 million

State-wide enhancements to regional cancer centres (state-wide)

  • Total investment $9.5 million
  • Estimated 2012–13: $9.5 million

Federal Budget: In summary

Cancer Council Victoria welcomes the announcement of the bowel cancer screening program's expansion. We'll closely monitor further developments in this area and will continue our advocacy efforts with the Cancer Council Australia to ensure all of the key political parties support the expansion of the program in time for the next Federal election. Further, the continued funding to support participation in breast and cervical cancer screening programs is also welcomed, as well as the investment in healthy and active lifestyles through the Chronic Disease Prevention and Service Improvement Fund, Cancer Council Victoria sees this as important for cancer prevention.

Programs of note

Expanding bowel cancer screening

The Government is providing $49.7 million over four years to fund a phased expansion of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program: from 2013, screening will be available for all Australians turning 60 years of age; from 2015 screening will also be available for all Australians turning 70 years of age; biennial screening will be progressively phased in, commencing in 2017-18 starting with Australians aged 72 years.

When fully implemented in 2034, the program will provide all Australians aged between 50 and 74 years the opportunity to undergo bowel cancer screening using a Government-provided faecal occult blood test every two years.

This measure builds on the 2011–12 Budget measure, which provided all Australians aged 50, 55 and 65 years the opportunity to undergo bowel cancer screening using a faecal occult blood test.

The Commonwealth is providing funding for the National Partnership on the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – participant follow-up function. This initiative funds the follow-up of participants who return a positive test result. The second phase of the program commenced on 1 July 2008 and offers testing to people who turn 50, 55 or 65 years of age.

It's not yet clear what if any investment has been set aside federally for public education or the expansion of colonoscopy services. Some of this responsibility may end up being shared with the state government.

Telehealth Pilot Program

The Government will provide $22.2 million over three years from 2012–13 through the National Broadband Network (NBN) Telehealth Pilot Program to provide new and innovative in-home telehealth services to older Australians, people living with cancer and those requiring palliative care.

This program will provide funding to pilot projects, to develop and deliver telehealth services to eligible participants in NBN early roll-out areas.

Medicare

The amendments to the Medicare Benefits Schedule include the addition of new items for gene testing, to determine whether cancer patients will respond to treatments.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

There have also been a number of price increases, including Zofran Syrup® (ondansetron syrup), for the prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting during cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Health infrastructure

The Commonwealth is providing funding from the Health and Hospitals Fund to support infrastructure to deliver a world class cancer care system in Australia. This funding will help modernise cancer services and improve detection, survival and treatment outcomes, particularly for patients in regional and rural Australia.

National cancer system component:

Year $ million VIC
2011–12
 279.0
2012–13  40.4
2013–14  75.6
2014–15  67.0
2015–16  50.0

Note: we suspect this is a rebranding of previous Hospital funding and are looking into whether it's new money.