AWMA representative Ann Marie Dunk presenting the Senate petition on the need for subsidising compression therapy items to Senator Dean Smith in Canberra on 13 May 2013.
Parliament asked to support best-practice wound care
Helping Australians battling chronic wounds is the focus of a Senate petition seeking government subsidies for best-practice compression dressings and bandages that the mostly-elderly patients need but are seldom able to afford.
The national petition of 1160 signatures was supported by patients, family members and carers, and the clinicians who help manage wounds. It was presented today to Senator Dean Smith (Liberal, WA), a member of the Senate Committee on Community Affairs, by Australian Wound Management Association (AWMA) committee representative, Ann Marie Dunk.
The petition, expected to be tabled in the Senate tomorrow, notes that with prompt best-practice care most wounds, including difficult venous leg ulcers, can be healed within 12 weeks.
The petition seeks Senate support for full subsidisation of best-practice wound management, a case that AWMA has been putting to Budget planners for several months.
Without the early use of dressings, and compression bandages and stockings, healing is delayed, causing avoidable pain and suffering, and creating unnecessary pressure on public hospitals and other health services.
“Instead of saving money, this false economy produces losses all around – for the patient, for the health system and for the taxpayers who fund public hospitals and other acute services,” the petition noted.
AWMA is the peak body for nurses, doctors and allied health professionals working in the field of wound care. It estimates that as many as 300,000 Australians currently experience chronic wounds requiring management, with around 42,600 people aged over 60 years having at least one venous leg ulcer at any time.
“At present, the barrier to best-practice use of compression items is their high cost, which most Australian patients must pay for personally”, said AWMA national president Dr Bill McGuiness.
Liberal Senator for Western Australia, Dean Smith, said he was pleased to call attention to the issues raised by AWMA’s petition: “All too often, issues such as this get lost in the middle of day-to-day political debate. However, my discussions with representatives of AWMA made a lasting impression, and I will certainly be talking with my parliamentary colleagues about the need for us to do more in this area.”
The recent KPMG health economics report, An Economic Evaluation of Compression Therapy for Venous Leg Ulcers, estimated that wider access to appropriate compression therapy could deliver an average $6,328 in health care savings per patient.
The KPMG report is available for download here
Media contact: Robin Osborne – 0409 984 488 E: email@example.com
The Australian Wound Management Association welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to provide $0.3M to fund a scoping study and cost benefit analysis of options to better address chronic wound management for Senior Australians.
The funding was announced in the Federal Budget 2013-14, handed down on 14 May, and forms part of the ‘Supporting Senior Australians’ package.
“AWMA is delighted that the Government has recognised the need to improve chronic wound management for Senior Australians,” National President, Dr Bill McGuiness, said. “We feel confident that the scoping study and related analysis will further confirm the clinical and economic benefits of a wider access to best-practice care. It is highly likely that a key part of the recommended regime will be subsidies for compression therapy items such as bandages and stockings for patients with venous leg ulcers.
“The need for subsidisation has been a key factor in our discussions with Government over the past year, and we look forward to assisting the coordinators of this study in any way they feel appropriate.”
Dr McGuiness called the scoping study a “very positive stepping stone on the path to ensuring best-practice management for every Australian experiencing a chronic wound.”
Around 300,000 Australians, mostly elderly and on pensions, suffer lower leg ulcers requiring regular care. These wounds are not for life – they should heal within 12 weeks when managed with compression bandaging. However, government subsidies are seldom available for this best-practice care. This means many people are out of pocket, or miss out on treatment they cannot afford. The Australian Wound Management Association is working with its 3,000 nurses, doctors and allied health members to bring about equity of care and improve quality of life.
Promotional Pack for Health Professionals click here
Better access to compression therapy could save $166M p.a.
The fifth annual Wound Awareness Week (18-22 March 2013) begins with a new report showing millions of health budget dollars and immense personal suffering would be saved through better access to compression therapy for leg ulcer patients.
AUSTRALIAN doctors and nurses in the wound care field are calling on the Federal Government to subsidise the cost of compression bandages and stockings, which could save up to $166 million annually.
A new national study highlighted by the Australian Wound Management Association on Monday, estimates that economic cost savings of $166 million a year could be generated if all eligible patients with venous leg ulcers were treated with compression bandages and stockings.
AWMA believes the high cost of the compression items is getting in the way of best medical practice and is calling on the Federal Government to consider a subsidy.
Patients could save up to $399 annually on compression items, the report found.
"These estimated savings would flow from the faster healing times associated with compression therapy," AWMA national president Dr Bill McGuiness said.
"Compression therapy is an essential component of VLU care, with most wounds healing within the benchmark time of 12 weeks, nearly twice as quickly as otherwise.
"This means less use of GPs, community care and hospitals, and a greatly reduced financial burden on the public health system."
Monday marks the start of Wound Awareness Week in Australia. KPMG, which produced the report, lead health economist Dr Henry Cutler said managing leg ulcers, which affects about 42,600 people over 60, was an equity issued that needed to be addressed urgently.
"The less well-off are paying the price for a health condition that causes pain and discomfort, greatly restricts their mobility and creates distress and social isolation," he said
|ABC radio discussion of Compression therapy featuring Dr Sue Page|
Australia’s fifth national Wound Awareness Week will highlight how the delivery of wound management can be significantly improved for patients, carers and family members, wound management clinicians, and the national health budget.
The not-so-secret answer is Compression Therapy - specialised compression stockings, and bandages used in conjunction with appropriate dressings – which reduces average healing time for venous leg ulcer patients to 20 weeks. This is nearly half the average healing time of 36 weeks for those treated using other means.
The Australia Wound Management Association is helping to coordinate events in collaboration with each State and Territory wound management Association to encourage practitioners and their patients to talk openly about the “elephant in the room” – wound management – and in particular venous leg ulcers.
Why isn’t it often mentioned? Because too many people assume that getting leg ulcers is just a ‘fact of life’, especially as they get older.
Fact: This isn’t true – leg wounds such as venous leg ulcers can indeed be successfully healed – with the right management.
Our goal is to raise public awareness that wounds can be uncomfortable, long-lasting (if not treated properly), socially isolating and they can happen to anyone.
At present, some 300,000 Australians, most of them elderly, have lower leg wounds. This means that almost everyone is likely to know somebody with a lower leg wound.
Getting the best care is essential for the healing process, and this means proper access to compression therapy. Yet many patients cannot afford it. Encouraging government to properly subsidise best-practice wound care such as compression therapy is a major focus of AWMA’s 2013 lobbying campaign, and a key aspect of Wound Awareness Week.
FACT: LEG ULCERS AREN’T FOR LIFE AND MOST OF THEM CAN BE HEALED
FAIRLY QUICKLY WITH THE CORRECT MANAGEMENT
AWMA has a series of posters available for download from this site or in hard copy by email request.
Please contact your local AWMA State or Territory Association to find out more about Wound Awareness Week and events near you.
Dr Bill McGuiness, AWMA President, and Ann Marie Dunk, AWMA (ACT) President and Committee Member of AWMA, are pictured at Parliament House, Canberra on 19 November 2012.
The AWMA representatives spent a busy day meeting with members of the Australian Senate’s Standing Committee on Community Affairs, which focuses on the portfolio areas of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Health and Ageing, and Human Services.
Approval was given by the AWMA Committee to target the Members during Senate Sittings in November 2012. The visit focused on raising awareness of the costs associated with managing venous leg ulcers, emphasising the need for subsidy arrangements for products used to treat these wounds. The MPs were also made aware of the current work being undertaken by consultancy firm KPMG on behalf of AWMA and the web based petition to the Senate.
Senators from across the political spectrum agreed that AWMA’s case for appropriate government subsidisation was a strong one that offered substantial benefits for both patients and the budgetary bottom-line.
As one Senator put it, “In my view it’s a no-brainer, and I’ll be supporting you in any way I can.”
Feedback of this kind was typical, regardless of party affiliation.
It’s no secret that the next Federal Budget will be a tight one, but the support AWMA is receiving is mounting fast, and we will continue this campaign on behalf of our 3000 members and 300,000 patients until a successful outcome is achieved.
People at risk of debilitating lower leg ulcers will be among the beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s tobacco plain packaging laws that come into effect from 1 December, according to the Australian Wound Management Association (AWMA), the peak body for 3,000 nurses, doctors and allied health professionals in this field.
Welcoming the decision to remove some of the glamour from cigarette smoking, AWMA’s Medical Representative, Dr Stephen Yelland, said tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and serious illness in Australia and closely linked with circulatory problems that contribute to lower leg problems.
“Establishing a patient’s smoking history is a crucial part of every consultation relating to the treatment of lower leg ulcers. Patients experiencing this painful and intransigent condition tend to be elderly people with a range of health issues, some related to being former smokers.
“In addition, there is a connection with smoking among many younger sufferers. Tobacco smoke, which includes a range of toxic chemicals, impedes blood circulation in the body and makes it very hard for wounds such as venous leg ulcers to heal naturally.”
According to Dr Yelland, a Gold Coast GP with expertise in leg wound management, “At any time around 300,000 Australians suffer leg wounds requiring medical and nursing care. Wound care is one of the most frequently performed GP procedures and accounts for up to 80 per cent of community nursing treatments. “
Yet the impact of smoking is entirely avoidable and the Government’s efforts to reduce tobacco consumption are to be welcomed. Of course this battle can’t be just government-led, but requires the full support of the community.
“It is gratifying to see that smoking rates have generally been dropping in recent times, but they remain dangerously high in certain segments of the population.
“The more you smoke, the harder it becomes to quit and the greater the long-term risk to your health. Believe me, there is nothing glamorous about having weeping leg ulcers, whatever your age, so anything that could help reduce the desirability and acceptability of smoking deserves to be encouraged.”
The acceptance of the terminology pressure injury by the ICN is due to the ACT Health Directorate first adopting this terminology from 2004 from research undertaken by the RCNMP; and secondly because of the Australian Wound Management Association in 2012 with the collaboration of New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong who launched the Pan Pacific Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Pressure Injury which further supported the terminology. The term pressure injury has also been accepted as terminology by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, and The Health Roundtable. The International Council of Nursing (ICN), a federation of 136 national nurses associations representing millions of nurses worldwide, is the recognised international nursing organisation. ICN works to ensure quality nursing care for all and sound health policies globally. The harmonisation of nursing language ensures that globally, nurses use the same nursing terminology.
A briefing paper
This document is to provide anyone with an interest in approaching politicians regarding wound care with a list of key talking points and a guide as to how best approach the meeting.
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