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Longer consults for endometriosis sufferers on the way


Michelle Wisbey


10/05/2024 4:08:49 PM

A $49 million funding boost will see two new MBS items added in July next year for specialist gynaecological appointments.

Women in pain holding stomach.
Endometriosis impacts at least one in nine Australian women.

Women living with endometriosis and complex gynaecological conditions will soon have better access to longer consultations, under a new Medicare shakeup.
 
On Friday, the Federal Government announced a $49.1 million plan to introduce two new Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items enabling extended consultation times.
 
The changes will be rolled out on 1 July next year and will also cover conditions such as chronic pelvic pain and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
 
It is expected the boost will fund 430,000 more services to help women to receive consultations of 45 minutes or longer.
 
Specifically, the Medicare changes will subsidise $168.60 for a minimum of 45 minutes during a longer initial gynaecologist consultation, compared to the standard rate of $95.60.
 
For follow up consultations, it will cover $84.35 for a minimum of 45 minutes - compared to the standard rate of $48.05.
 
GP and women’s health expert Associate Professor Magda Simonis welcomed the announcement, saying it serves as an important acknowledgement of women and their individual health needs.
 
‘As GPs we’ve had the benefit of the Level E item number be introduced, which permits GPs to deal with complex conditions such as endometriosis and other women’s health issues,’ she told newsGP.
 
‘However, many of our patients will return after a consultation with their gynaecologist complaining of the rapid in-and-out visit with the fee of up to $300, to be basically told they are to go to theatre.
 
‘These conversations take time which women need when coming to terms with their diagnosis and management plan.’
 
The boost comes as a 2019 report revealed endometriosis impacts at least one in nine Australian women, leaving many with devastating and daily symptoms.
 
Every year there are around 34,000 endometriosis-related hospitalisations, with 80% of those being in women aged 15–44.
 
Associate Professor Simonis said moving forward she wants to see greater education and training embedded into the medical school curriculum and GP training programs around endometriosis and women’s health.

‘Women comprise around 50% of the population, around 60% of the workforce, and 70% of the healthcare workforce – this funding is mandatory to bring equity to the health discussion,’ she said.
 
‘The cost of being a woman with a chronic women’s health issue has only just started to be considered.’
 
She is also calling for greater access to affordable, high-quality ultrasounds in general practice, as well as more affordable specialised physiotherapy for women and education around insertion of long-acting contraceptives.

Federal Health and Aged Care Assistant Minister Ged Kearney said, as a former nurse, she remains committed to ensuring a spotlight continues to be shined on women’s health issues.
 
‘This new MBS listing will mean women with complex gynaecological conditions receive the attention and care they deserve, and sooner,’ she said.
 
‘It means we are tackling the inequities in the health system for so many women.
 
‘Australian women have made their voices heard.’
 
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Dr Christine Colson   11/05/2024 11:51:01 AM

Does this not reveal, in neon lights, how time-based medicare items distort and corrupt medical consultations? The mind boggles, especially when medical professionals 'welcomed the announcement', further entrenching this mindless system.