Sufferers paying the price despite new endometriosis guidelines

March 20, 2020

Sufferers paying the price despite new endometriosis guidelines

General Practitioner Dr Orna McGinn says women are disadvantaged by the cost of straight forward endometriosis treatment in primary care. Photo by Larissa Howie.

Sufferers of endometriosis still face forking out for high cost treatments despite the launch of new best practice guidelines, says an Auckland doctor.

Auckland based general practitioner (GP) Dr Orna McGinn says the guidelines promote hormonal treatments such as the Mirena IUF which can cost women up to $200 to be inserted in primary care.

“This should be available in primary care as a first line treatment, and pathways should be developed for this to be accessible in primary care at no cost to the women”, says Dr McGinn.

She says while the Mirena treatment itself became funded last year, this does not account for the cost of insertion.

“Funding a treatment is only half the battle. Funding the insertion of the treatment, the insertion of the IUF is the other half of the equation.

“It would be like funding insulin for a diabetic but saying they have to pay for their needles and their testing strips”, she says.

According to Dr McGinn, hormonal treatments such as the Mirena are often effective for mild or suspected cases of endometriosis.

However, she says a lack of resources and specialist training for treating female health issues means women do not always get the attention they need.

“At the moment in New Zealand there is no training scheme to do any sort of contraceptive or Gynaecological procedure”, says Dr McGinn.

Endometriosis New Zealand CEO Deborah Bush has been pioneering for decades to get a best practice document across the line for endometriosis but says there has been next to no funding behind the new guidelines.

In 2007 Bush received $20,000 from Government for a research document explaining why best practice guidelines are necessary. But after being submitted, the document only gathered dust on the shelf, according to Ms Bush.

“Apart from that 2007 lump, there’s never been any ministerial or govt or any ministry of health money to the guideline”, she says.

Ms Bush believes the guidelines are a good first step, but says it is now important to implement principles in the document and see what that means in terms of funding.

She says the budget for the implementation of the guidelines has not been discussed.

“It’s all very well saying it’s got to be handled better in primary care but where’s the tools for us to do that”.

Endometriosis sufferer Katie Thompson spent nine years ing severe pain and attending countless doctor appointments before being diagnosed.

“I walked away feeling fobbed off or like they didn't have time for me”, says Miss Thompson.

She describes endometriosis as a “silent disease” and wants healthcare providers to take it more seriously.

“We need to train healthcare providers not to overlook it. There should be funding going towards re-educating them and raise their awareness around endometriosis”, she says.

Within the document it states; “resource and cost implications of implementing the principles in this document have not been considered”.

When asked why there has been no consideration of costs, Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter told Te Waha Nui it is the responsibility of District Health Boards to fund and provide health services to meet the needs of their populations.

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