The healing begins: Australian Government announces first ever wound care products support scheme
Tuesday, 9 May 2023
On Tuesday 9 May 2023, Australian Treasurer The Hon Jim Chalmers MP announced a funded Wound Consumables Scheme as part of the 2023–24 Budget.
For the last 18 months Wounds Australia has led a campaign for such a scheme, having advocated on the issue for decades.
Beginning this year, the Government will provide $47.8 million over the next five years to improve the treatment of chronic wounds by providing eligible patients with subsidised wound consumables. Eligible patients will include people with diabetes aged 65 years and First Nations people aged 50 years and over.
As the peak body for wound prevention and management, Wounds Australia Chair, Hayley Ryan said, “We are delighted by the Australian Government’s decision to fund a Chronic Wound Consumables Scheme.”
“As the voice for nearly half a million Australians living with chronic wounds and the health professionals who provide the highest quality care and treatment to them, we have long advocated for increased funding and support for this neglected area of health.”
A chronic wound is one that has not progressed through the stages of healing normally. They heal at a much slower rate, often only partially and frequently recur. Wound consumables are the products necessary for healing and their costs can run into thousands of dollars.
Early intervention is critical but, for many Australians living with chronic wounds, correct diagnoses, appropriate treatment pathways and the right consumables are not easily accessible. The measure will also provide health care professionals with education and training on chronic wound management.
Ms Ryan said, “There is currently no Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) item number for the care and treatment of chronic wounds outside a hospital setting. Many healthcare professionals lack the expert knowledge to effectively treat chronic wounds. Coupled with the stigma and embarrassment often associated with chronic wounds, this major health condition can have a negative impact on patients’ mental health, as well as significant social and financial impacts.”
Chronic wounds are costly, with developed economies spending an estimated three per cent of total health expenditure on their care. In addition, costs associated with wound care consumables are borne primarily by the patient or by wound care clinicians.
“We estimate that the Australian health and aged care system spends nearly $6.6bn on chronic wound care, with each patient spending an average of $4000 on out-of-pocket costs for consumables every year,” Ms Ryan said. “Not only does it make good health sense for the government to properly address the treatment of chronic wounds in this budget, it’s also good economics.
“Chronic wounds are treatable, and every wound that doesn’t receive correct or timely diagnosis and treatment requires additional, more intensive and costly treatment over the longer term. This Chronic Wound Consumables Scheme will save both patients and the taxpayer money at a time of economic and cost-of-living stress.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Wounds Australia is the national peak body for wound prevention, diagnosis, treatment and healing, with nearly 18,000 members and supporters across the country, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, researchers, allied health and aged care professionals.
Ms Hayley Ryan is available for interview.
Explore the website: www.woundsaustralia.org
Emma Noble, Director of Communications, Wounds Australia