NSW government extends funding for cystic fibrosis adult services

A funding boost will create up to 13 new staff positions for adult cystic fibrosis services.

A funding boost will create up to 13 new staff positions for adult cystic fibrosis services. Photo: Virginia Star

Teenagers living with cystic fibrosis will continue to receive treatment when they become adults after a last minute funding promise by the NSW government.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner on Sunday committed to nearly $1.4 million in annual funding.

Cystic fibrosis advocates hope this will enable the state’s three adult clinics to accept new patients.

The Westmead clinic warned it would need to stop accepting new referrals from February 20 unless it was funded for four additional staff.

Mrs Skinner said her office had met Cystic Fibrosis NSW last year to discuss the effect of the increased life expectancy on adult cystic fibrosis services.

“I asked the NSW Ministry of Health to review resourcing and consult with clinicians,” she said.

This had resulted in a funding boost of $1.382 million per annum, which would create 12 to 13 staff positions.

There has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of adults with cystic fibrosis over the past seven years, and for the first time in medical history it is no longer a paediatric disease.

However, staffing levels at adult clinics have not kept pace.

The Westmead clinic has three staff to treat 180 patients, while Royal Prince Alfred has four staff for 250 patients and John Hunter has 1.5 staff for 90 patients.

Cystic Fibrosis NSW chief executive Michele Adair said the hospitals still needed to consent to recruitment but the funding was promising.

“This staffing gets us to a safe and reasonable level for the short term,” Ms Adair said.

“But we need an ongoing commitment to future service agreements to ensure that the government is going to continue to increase funding as the adult population continues to increase.”

The funding follows Labor’s commitment to $8 million over four years for 20 new staff.

Assistant Health Minister Jai Rowell said the government’s new package would be welcomed by families.

“The transition from paediatric care to adult care presents many challenges and I am very pleased we are able to provide further support to young people on this journey,” Mr Rowell said.