Victoria to lead the world in cancer treatment and medical research

The Morrison Government is investing almost half a billion dollars to deliver world-leading cancer treatment for Australian patients, extra hospital infrastructure, more mental health services and new medical research projects.

The $496 million investment backs Victoria’s position as a global leader in health and medical research and provides new support for patients while creating Australian jobs.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said $80 million would help create a new national cancer treatment centre at Peter Mac, providing access to treatments previously only offered overseas.

“This investment will be life-changing for so many of our sickest Australians, including many children battling cancer,” the Prime Minister said. “Our strong economic management means we can provide world-leading treatment options for patients in Melbourne, who have previously needed to travel to the United States to get support.

“Today’s Health and Medical Research Plan cements Melbourne’s place as a global leader in health and medical research, creating jobs while importantly providing support for Australian patients.” Peter Mac will also be investing $25 million to create the Centre of Excellence in Cellular Immunotherapy.

This new national centre will provide CAR T-cell therapy, helping the body’s own immune system to fight cancer and has the potential to cure certain types of cancer.

CAR T-cell therapy involves removing a patient’s T-cells (a type of immune system cell), re-engineering them in a lab and reinserting them back into the body to attack and kill the cancer cells.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the Victorian Health and Medical Research Plan would support our doctors, nurses and brightest researchers to treat patients and help find new breakthrough cures for cancer through CAR T-cell therapy.

“The Victorian package puts Melbourne at the global forefront of cancer research and gives our patients the best chance of treating and beating cancer.

“This plan builds on the more than 55 per cent increase in Commonwealth funding to Victorian hospitals, record bulk billing and more than 2,000 new medicines subsided under the PBS,” Minister Hunt said. $30 million will be invested in St Vincent Hospital’s Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery – Australia’s first hospital-based biomedical engineering research and training hub.

This will create a new research facility, which will support more research projects, which are already improving and saving lives. $16 million will be invested to support the mental health of young people by developing eight new headspace services in Victoria, in addition to the previously announced Wangaratta service.

Australians with cancer and rare diseases will have access to clinical trials no matter where they live, including regional and remote Victoria, with a $25 million investment in the Australian Clinical Trials Network’s TrialHub. Hospitals in Rosebud, Casey and Bendigo in Victoria will be the first hospitals to partner with the TrialHub.

$25 million will help establish a new national Drug Discovery Centre that aims to turn scientific discoveries into new medicines faster.

The Centre, at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, will help bring lifesaving medicines to patients with the help of advanced robotic gear.

$40 million will fund new paediatric emergency departments inside the existing emergency departments of Geelong, Maroondah, Frankston and Casey hospitals.

This project will develop emergency department facilities that are appropriate for families and children, leading to better clinical outcomes.

$32 million will be invested in a new medical Health Futures to be lead by Peninsula Health and Monash University. The Frankston-based Hub will focus on community health issues including aged care, addiction and mental health.

This will mean that the Mornington Peninsula and Frankston communities will see the direct benefit from research that is undertaken in their community. Ten new MRI licences will be available across Victoria, which will allow patients to receive life-saving Medicare subsidised scans.

MRI machines with Medicare eligibility will be available at sites including Epping, Heidelberg, Lilydale, Keilor East, Parkville, Moorabbin, Berwick, Olympic Park, Geelong and Brighton.

An MRI is a commonly used medical scan used by doctors to diagnose and monitor a number of different medical conditions including cancer and trauma or sporting injuries.

The investment in the Peter Mac Centre of Excellence in Cellular Immunotherapy will see:

· Establishment of capacity and capability to provide more than 200 patients accessing lifesaving treatments for leukaemia and lymphoma cancers or accessing life-changing clinical trials using CAR T-cell therapy and other immunotherapies.
· Over 140 new manufacturing jobs created.
· 15 new clinical and pre-clinical research jobs will be immediately created.
· 1,700 square meters of space will be fitted out with Good Manufacturing Grade clean rooms for cellular immunotherapy manufacturing.
· 900 square meters of space will be fitted out to create a 14 bed/chair clinical unit.