Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (19:16): My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Health, and the action I am seeking is for the government to establish a centre of expertise in specialised endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain diagnosis, treatment and management.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, and it is estimated that one in nine Australian women are diagnosed with this condition by age 44. Studies show that the economic burden associated with endometriosis is high and similar to that of diabetes, Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Endometriosis costs the national economy $9.7 billion every year from the loss of productivity and direct health costs, or $30 000 per person per year. What seems to be lacking in our current health system are proper care pathways and evidence-based approaches to the delivery of care. There are simply too many stories of patients being poorly managed and the severity of their disease not being understood.
I must say I was completely horrified to read the experience of one of my constituents, Caity Howes. I was just re-reading it here in the chamber. Over 17 years she endured surgery after surgery, including in the end a total hysterectomy. It cost her approximately $50 000 over those 17 years. Katie says many of her issues may have been prevented had her initial surgeon used specialised best practice treatment. She also experienced, as she puts it, gaslighting from health professionals who told her that everything looked fine and she should not be experiencing the pain she was experiencing.
I must say, I raised this a couple of years ago in this place, calling out the stigma of chronic pain in health. It may be the reason one in eight women with endometriosis use cannabis to alleviate pain and other symptoms. Caity’s story is not unique. So many Victorians are suffering as a result of not knowing where to go to receive specialised care. So the action I seek is for the minister to work with the commonwealth on the implementation of the national endometriosis action plan National Action Plan for Endometriosis and specifically point 2.1 of the priorities, which is to:
Define and establish Centres of Expertise in specialised endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain diagnosis …
This recommendation of multidisciplinary teams working in partnership with individuals presenting with endometriosis, chronic pelvic pain or period pain requires support from the states. Victoria could be the first state to establish such a centre and show real leadership on this condition affecting so many Victorian women.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region