Radio interview with Assistant Minister Kearney and Adam Shirley, ABC Canberra - 22 March 2023

Read the transcript of Assistant Minister Kearney and Adam Shirley's radio interview on new national Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Clinics.

The Hon Ged Kearney MP
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care

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ADAM SHIRLEY, ABC CANBERRA: The Albanese Labor government has decided it's time to introduce specific endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics. There will be one open here in the ACT as well. And Ged Kearney is Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care to speak further to what this will do for people who live with endo. Ged Kearney, thank you for your time. Appreciate it.
 
GED KEARNEY, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE: It's my pleasure, Adam. Thanks for raising awareness of this today.
 
SHIRLEY: So many people live with endo. Some, quite a few suffer in silence when they shouldn't have to. So, Assistant Minister, how will this help them and the people that love them?
 
KEARNEY: Well you're spot on there, we know about one in 9 women at the moment have been diagnosed with endometriosis. And that could be a lot more because it takes on average seven years to actually get a diagnosis. And why does it take so long? Well, because what we're hearing from women is that so many people are simply not believed. When they present with the pain, you know, they present with pelvic pain, chronic pelvic pain, they're not believed, they're misdiagnosed, they're sent home with Panadol. We heard one woman today tell us that when she was 12 years old, she was put on an oestrogen pill and just told that this is just life for women from now on. And she was finally diagnosed at 30 after suffering crippling pain for years and years. The clinics that we're announcing today, there’s 20, we're really excited. They're multidisciplinary services. They will specialise in endometriosis and pelvic pain more broadly so that women will have a front door, they'll have a place where they go where they know they'll be believed. They'll know that they'll get treated properly. They know they'll get a diagnosis in a timely manner. And we really think that this will be game changing for women and people assigned female at birth.
 
SHIRLEY: Obviously focusing on the ACT for our audience, but more broadly, are the clinics planned to be adjacent to or incorporated into existing hospitals, specialist clinics that are already in states and territories?
 
KEARNEY: Good question. So we went out to tender right around the country with the Primary Health Networks - the PHNs in every state. In the ACT, the Sexual Health and Family Planning clinic here in Canberra was successful. And they've got a fantastic model here where they are really integrated with the local hospital with other GPs, with allied health professionals right around the city. And so their plan is to make sure that women who come in through their front door with pelvic pain or endometriosis get timely treatment from anyone they need right across the city. So it's a great model. Other GP clinics right across the country in rural and regional areas as well, they'll get around $700,000 each to really establish good clinics, they might have to train up professionals, they might have to build extra rooms. I think it'll be really great.
 
SHIRLEY: You've heard from the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney. Adam Shirley with you on ABC Radio Canberra. 3 minutes to 9, very slow east bound on Parkes Way. But just on staffing as you've touched on there. Will this require new staff to give that care in Canberra and beyond or existing health workers who might be retrained?
 
KEARNEY: We heard from the Sexual Health and Family Planning clinic today that they will use the money to train up existing staff to specialise in this area, but also importantly to make sure that other health professionals in Canberra and the surrounding districts are actually also trained up to deal specifically with pelvic pain and endometriosis so that they can make sure those links are seamless. In other areas, yes, it might be about employing nurses or nurse practitioners who specialise in this area, it might be about investing some of that money in training people up so I think it's a mixture right across the country, Adam. That's the beauty of this is that each area we've modelled the funding to suit each area's needs.
 
SHIRLEY: Briefly but importantly, when is the opening door date for ACT and some of these other clinics for women who are living with endo right now?
 
KEARNEY: Well, you could walk in the door right now and you would get excellent care at the Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT. But over the next year, it will vary from where you are so check out where the local one is in your area and you can contact that clinic and you'll get a really spot on answer about when services will begin.
 
SHIRLEY: Very briefly, I am not sure with the details available here but a couple of texters are inquiring about this. Is it by referral form to get to this specific clinic or can you just have a walk-in scenario?
 
KEARNEY: You can just walk in. So these are just like a GP clinic. You will ring up, it will be actually an existing clinic that's already in your community. You can just ring up, make an appointment and just present, which is also the beauty of it.
 
SHIRLEY: Okay we'll have to leave it there owing to news but Minister Kearney, appreciate your time on something that will support a lot of women in this region.
 
KEARNEY: It will. Thank you so much Adam.
 
SHIRLEY: Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care on ABC Radio Canberra. Thank you for listening on breakfast today.

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