Parliamentary Campaign Addressing the Funding Gap
Wellspect HealthCare has partnered with Mitrofanoff Support Australia and a number of charities to launch a Parliamentary campaign lobbying government for greater financial assistance to adequately cover a broader range of catheter products.
The campaign was launched on 29th July, 2015. Emma Carr, Group Account Director at Res Publica is coordinating the lobbying on behalf of a Wellspect HealthCare, Mitrofanoff Support Australia and various disability organisations including:
• Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
• Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Queensland
• Foundation 97
• ParaQuad Association of Tasmania Inc
Introductory Letter to Members of Parliament
I am writing on behalf of a number of concerned organisations that together represent the vast majority of people who rely on catheters in Australia. The need for catheterisation can result from spinal injury and neurogenic bladder dysfunction or as the result a range of diagnoses, including spinal cord injury, myelomeningocele (spina bifida), multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons disease, diabetes and stroke and children with various rare congenital conditions such as bladder exstrophy. Also, cancer patients who have been treated for prostate, bladder, and bowel cancers may be left with damaged urethral and bladder tissue resulting in incontinence or urinary retention. Mechanical factors such as from benign prostatic hyperplasia can also cause urinary retention that necessitates catheterisation.
The experience of many of the people who use catheters is very concerning; people who rely on intermittent hydrophilic catheters often do not receive adequate funding from the national and state governments to cover the costs of these essential devices. Our research has shown that this will remain the case even when the National Disability Insurance Scheme is rolled out in full, unless action is taken.
For many people, this means they are forced to either cover the shortfall – which can be anything from $1000 to $7000 per year – or resort to re-using their single use devices – which can result in increased risk of infection and hospital admission, and in some cases can contribute to end-stage renal failure. Many people who require catheters rely on a disability support pension, meaning that the out-of-pocket expenses of catheters are impossible to meet. Many people are not given the full choice of catheters available for them because some prescribers feel duty-bound to only recommend lower cost devices, given the lack of funding available.
We believe that people who rely on intermittent catheterisation should be able to use whichever products are most suitable and safest for them, regardless of their ability to meet out of pocket costs. Using the correct product can make the difference between a person who relies on intermittent catheterisation living independently and with dignity or suffering from repeated infections; bladder and kidney stones; liver, spleen and kidney disease; increased need for surgeries and hospital admissions; and, eventually, end stage renal failure.
Not only would proper funding for catheters allow people to make a choice based on clinical need and their own personal circumstances, but we believe that it would actually realise long term savings for the Government by reducing the instances of infection and the need for costly hospital admissions and the economic benefit of people who rely on catheters having greater independence and better ability to work.
I have included two briefings below for your information – the first explains the impact of insufficient funding for people who rely on catheters; the second gives an overview of catheterisation and the research behind it.
We would very much welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how this issue can be addressed, both through the NDIS and in the lead up to the full NDIS roll out. If you are able to meet, please do let me know and we can arrange a convenient time.
I look forward to hearing back from you in the near future.
Managing Director, Wellspect HealthCare
Support information included in the Letter to Members of Parliament