Labor announces it will fund expansion of 'Patient Pathways' program

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Labor has announced it will support the expansion of the program that currently faces shut down over the federal government's failure to renew its funding.

The community-led program has supported over 2,000 Australian families through almost 20,000 interventions since 2019.

The 'Patient Pathways' program is a collaboration led by the Centre for Community-Driven Research (CCDR) that places nursing specialists within patient organisations to provide health system navigation and other support to families and patients.

The program was actually developed at the suggestion of health minister Greg Hunt and he even came up with the name.

The $1.56 million in funding over three years expires at the end of June this year.

Minister Hunt has so far failed to respond to three letters from CCDR chief executive Kate Holliday over the program's future while Department of Health officials have simply refused to provide any indication that the funding will be extended.

Ms Holliday recently told BioPharmaDispatch the lack of action from the government left the organisation with little choice but to start planning its shut down with obvious implications for the patients and families it supports.

Shadow health minister Mark Butler has now announced that an elected Labor government will support expanding the program by providing $2.47 million over three years.

"Patient Pathways helps those diagnosed with certain, often rare diseases better navigate the health system with the assistance of telehealth nurses," said Mr Butler.

"Being diagnosed with a serious medical condition is daunting and understanding what your next steps are is often confusing. It’s particularly daunting when the condition is rare and there are less treatment options.

"Patient Pathways is a national program and the position of nurses in patient organisations means they are accessible to anyone in Australia, regardless of location."

Mr Butler said the funding will ensure the program expands well beyond the current 10 organisations.