EMMA MCBRIDE, ASSISTANT MINISTER: I’m so pleased to be here today at the Orange Family Medical Centre, to announce one of our 20 Endo and Pelvic Pain Clinics across Australia. This is an investment of $16.4 million in the health of women and girls right around Australia. We know that endometriosis affects up to one in nine women, and typically the time to diagnosis is often seven years. What we want to see through this investment is women and girls all around Australia, being able to get timely diagnosis, early intervention, and the right sort of treatment and care.
JOURNALIST: I know the answer, but why is this important?
MCBRIDE: It is absolutely critical that women and girls get the quality care that they need, close to home. We know that early intervention makes such a big difference in their treatment and care. And we know that in regional centres, often there has been an even longer delay to be able to get that care. What this investment will mean, is that specialist nurses like Sarah will have the equipment, will have the resources, and will have the time, to be able to provide that quality care that all women and girls deserve. We know that endometriosis and pelvic pain affects your learning. It affects your work. It affects your fertility, and it also affects the budget. It has been estimated that the impact will be about $6 billion on the budget. So we're so determined to make sure that every woman and girl who experiences endometriosis and pelvic pain, gets early intervention, gets that specialist treatment and care in a multidisciplinary environment and close to home.
JOURNALIST: 20 programs is a lot too, what areas are we talking about?
MCBRIDE: So we've got 20 across Australia, six in New South Wales. We'll also see one in Coffs Harbour, we'll see one in the Southern Highlands and we'll see one in Leichardt. So we're making sure that these centres are wide across Australia, so that women and girls wherever they live have got access, safely to quality care when they need it.
JOURNALIST: It's something, endo and pelvic pain, we'll call it an invisible condition. So what sort of impact will this make, you mentioned just financially to the budget that sort of impact it can have.
MCBRIDE: It is absolutely devastating the impact and endometriosis presents in very individualised ways. So the severity and the impact can be quite different on individual women and girls and what we want to make sure is that consistently, that there's early intervention within a multidisciplinary environment with those specialised skills and training so that every woman and girl can get the right kind of treatment and care. And this is part of our National Endometriosis Action Plan to make sure from research through to the bedside, that women and girls are getting the best quality care.
JOURNALIST: What's the next step in your action plan then as well?
MCBRIDE: The intention of the action plan is that it will create a blueprint so we know where the gaps in research are so we know where the right sort of investment should be and so we see that translated into quality care. So this action plan was launched in 2018. There was an update earlier this year, and we're really keen to see that evidence base which then informs practice to make sure that we're providing the most up to date quality care.
JOURNALIST: And is the program something that the government then provides or the practices are coming up with themselves?
MCBRIDE: So with the funding, the whole endometriosis support package is over $58 million, the particular investment in these clinics is $16.4 million, which will mean an average of $700,000 for each of these 20 clinics over four years. We've heard from Sarah about what this will mean about the specialist equipment that she'll be able to purchase, about the pelvic physiotherapy that will be able to be expanded, and about the resources that she'll be able to share with other nurses so that we can make sure that there's broader awareness, early intervention and good care. I will now pass to Sarah.
SARAH THORNCRAFT, NURSE SUPERVISOR: This is such an exciting thing for me. Such a dream come true really for a women's health nurse to be offered an opportunity like this to make a real difference in the life of women with endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain. It's very exciting.
JOURNALIST: What sort of things will you be able to do with this funding?
THORNCRAFT: So at the moment, we're looking at providing state of the art equipment so that we can give our patients the best experience when they come in. We're also looking at providing training to our clinicians so that we can provide a highly skilled workforce who really understands and has the knowledge, the skills to be able to conduct the right assessments, and to be able to really offer patients the treatment that they deserve.
JOURNALIST: Probably instils a lot of confidence in patients as well. Because it can be very unrecognised condition.
THORNCRAFT: Absolutely. So what we know is for lots of women who suffer with endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain, their experience in the past has been that they've turned up to a clinic hoping for empathetic, knowledgeable care and unfortunately at times, they have felt that it's somewhat of a lucky dip or an unlucky dip in terms of what they get and the knowledge and care that they can be provided with. So this is a real opportunity for us to be able to offer, that they'll be able to come and tell their story and that we will listen to them with empathy and that we'll be able to provide solutions for them with confidence.
JOURNALIST: What would be roughly the process for someone who came in showing symptoms for something like this?
THORNCRAFT: Absolutely. So we're looking at conducting a multi visit experience for our patients. So they'll come in and have an initial assessment which is multidisciplinary, so they'll have an experience with myself as the nurse, with a GP, and also with a pelvic floor physiotherapist, and we'll work together to give an initial assessment that's holistic for that patient, and then we'll get together and have a case conference about what's best for that patient. We will speak to that patient about what they might need going forward and what their priorities are. Because as we know, for some women with endometriosis, their priority might be fertility. For others, it's pain. So we're going to listen to what their needs are, what their priorities are, and then we're going to use that multidisciplinary model to plan their care and to walk them through their patient journey and their treatment.
JOURNALIST: I can see why you're so excited this is incredible.
THORNCRAFT: Absolutely. It's the most amazing opportunity to provide not only assessment and treatment, but support and advocacy because often that's what women need so much.
JOURNALIST: You have an idea in terms of numbers, how many women and girls you might be able to help with your programs here in Orange?
THORNCRAFT: We're trying our best to set up something that is going to be sustainable into the future, even without the funding so that we're using what we have now to set up something that's going to be available to anybody in our region who wants to attend. So we're not looking at any patient caps at this point in time. The region is our oyster, for sure.
JOURNALIST: Anything else I've missed that you wanted to mention?
THORNCRAFT: I just wanted to say thank you very much to the Federal Government for providing us with this incredible opportunity to make such a difference in the lives of women with chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis. We're just so excited to be able to provide something that's going to make a real difference. We are excited to be able to have outcomes for these women who have suffered for too long and not been heard for too long. And we want to change that and we're really excited to make a difference in this space.