Funding for regional nurses sought through election commitments
Crohn’s & Colitis Australia (CCA) is encouraging advocates and people living with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) to approach their local politician or candidate to support a proposal to fund nurses in regional centres for people living with chronic inflammatory conditions.
CCA is seeking support for their proposal as it was not taken up by the federal government in their latest budget. Election commitments from all parties and candidates in the upcoming federal election would shine a spotlight on the urgent need for regional nurses to support those living with IBDs.
This year’s federal election takes place a few days after World IBD Awareness Day on 19 May – a timely reminder that the more than 100,000 Australians living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis need continued support to improve their quality of life.
Prompt diagnosis of these conditions and early treatment with medications known as biologicals can truly transform the lives of patients – they prevent functional disability, disease progression, social and mental health impacts and healthcare costs.
Leanne Raven, CCA’s CEO, notes that only specialists can initiate these treatments, with ongoing supply requiring rigorous assessments including patient diaries and monitoring of blood test results.
“These medications have been available for over a decade yet eligible rural and regional patients have limited access to these drugs because of the lack of multidisciplinary support in the primary health sector regionally.”
“Ideally, we would prefer patients to have ready access to all three specialist medical services (Rheumatology, Gastroenterology and Dermatology), but in their absence an integrated hub-and-spoke model of care with specialised nurses integrated into existing health care networks will improve the quality of care that is lacking in these communities,“ Leanne said.
Funding is needed to make this proposal a reality and contacting local members and senators, leaders, political parties, and candidates during the federal election campaign provides a great opportunity to secure commitments.
“Political offices record the number of calls and emails they receive on an issue, and it affects their own advocacy within their party and in the community. That’s why we are encouraging our supporters to call or email their local member and other candidates,” Leanne said.
CCA worked in partnership with eight other organisations to develop their proposal, including:
- Australian Rheumatology Association (ARA), Rheumatology Health Professionals Special Interest Group Association (RHPSIG), and ARA Regional Rheumatology Committee
- Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA)
- Australasian College of Dermatologists
- Australian College of Nursing
- Gastroenterological Nurses College of Australia (GENCA) and IBD Nurses Association (IBDNA)
- Arthritis Australia
- Psoriasis Australia
World IBD Awareness Day falls during Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month, which offers an opportunity for people living with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis to courageously speak up and remove the stigma around IBD to increase the public’s understanding. While most people are diagnosed with IBD between the ages of 14 and 25, it can affect anyone at any stage of life – this year’s theme for World IBD Day is #IBDHasNoAge.
To further put a spotlight on this issue, a number of buildings and landmarks around the country will be lighting up purple on 19 May. You can see the list of sites here.
CCA hopes this awareness month is a chance to band together, start conversations about IBD and spread awareness and understanding of Crohn’s and colitis. Those living with these diseases can get involved with CCA’s ‘You’ve Got Guts’ campaign by sharing their brave stories and comments on social platforms to #flushthestigma.
Anyone diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis can join CCA, a community that understands. To learn more, visit https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.au/ or call 1800 138 029.