The Federal Government has announced it’ll open 20 Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Clinics across Australia, which is a huge win given how under-diagnosed reproductive health issues often are. However, whether the clinics will be well-staffed and resourced remains to be seen.
Both Libs and Labor were committed to funding 16 new Endometriosis clinics, but the addition by Labor of another four is new and exciting.
There will be at least one clinic in every state and territory, both in metropolitan and regional areas, and all of them will work in existing general practice.
Each clinic will receive around $700,000 in funding from the government over four years, to “support hiring specialised staff, including nurse practitioners and allied health professionals, investment in equipment or fit-outs such as pelvic physiotherapy areas, as well as resources, training and development”.
The gold standard form of diagnosis and treatment is excision surgery however not all regular gynaecologists are actually trained in this speciality. Endo excision specialists are extremely hard to come by, especially in regional/rural areas and via public health system… 🧵
— Bridget Hustwaite (@BHustwaite) March 21, 2023
The funding has come from the $58 million package the government committed to endometriosis. Friendly reminder that not long before that, our federal government allocated $50 million to a Captain Cook memorial. And we’re spending $368 billion on submarines. Just food for thought!
Here’s where the excitement gets even dimmer: if you do the math, this means each clinic will only receive $175,000 in government funding per year, which is… not a lot. How many people’s salaries could you pay with $175,000?
It also remains to be seen how these clinics will be staffed, given endometriosis specialists are few and far between. However, there’s also the chance that these new clinics will prompt more people to train in specialised endometriosis care, something that is needed given the condition affects 1 in 9 Australian women and people assigned female at birth.
Lack-lustre funding aside, the move to have more specialised endometriosis clinics is still one to be praised given how little people actually have access to this care.
“Too many women suffer for years with what we know can be debilitating conditions,” Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney said in a statement.
“Gathering expertise under one roof, fostering that knowledge to improve diagnosis and services, having referral pathways in place — these are all crucial elements to getting the support that women need right.
“The recognition of endometriosis and pelvic pain as serious conditions has been a long and hard-fought battle from fierce advocates in the sector and in our communities. I want to say to those people: thank you and we’re listening.”
Here’s where all the new Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Clinics will be located:
- Orange Family Medical Centre, Orange
- Hunters Hill Medical Practice, Hunters Hill
- Leichardt General Practice, Leichardt
- The Women’s Health Centre Southern Highlands, Mittagong
- Milton Medical Centre Coffs Harbour, Milton
- EACH Practice, Ringwood East
- Bendigo Community Health Service, Bendigo
- Kardinia Health, Belmont
- Lyndoch Medical Hub, Warnambool
- MATSICHS (Institure for Urban Indigenous Health Ltd), Morayfield
- Benowa Super Clinic, Benowa
- Family Planning Queensland, Cairns
- Neighbourhood Medical, Bardon
- Pioneer Health Albany, Albany
- The Garden Family Medical Clinic, Murdoch
- Kadina Medical Associates, Kadina
- Family Planning Tasmania, Glenorchy
- Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT, Canberra
- Northside Health Darwin, Coconut Grove
Is it concerning that more than half our states and territories will only have one of the new clinics? Yes. But hey, it’s better than the very minimal endometriosis care we currently have.