National action plan to improve endometriosis diagnosis and care

The Federal government is putting endometriosis on the agenda, with the release of the first National Action Plan for Endometriosis to tackle the gynaecological condition affecting 10% of women.

Developed in collaboration with clinicians in areas such as gynaecology, fertility, pain management and surgery, the document outlines an agenda to improve awareness, accelerate diagnosis, and develop better diagnostics and treatments and ideally find a cure for the condition.

Releasing the plan this week, Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said women have “suffered in silence for far too long, enduring diagnostic delays of between seven and twelve years on average”.

“Patients have historically experienced poor clinical care, due to a low level of understanding of the condition, both amongst the public and the medical community,” he added.

The plan’s action steps include:

  • Developing nationally consistent clinical guidelines and clinical care standards, an evidence based-clinical pathway to guide referral
  • Establish clear models of care that cover lesions, pain management, fertility management, including subfertility presentations without pelvic pain, and management of psychosocial, functional and participation aspects of living with endometriosis and associated chronic pelvic pain
  • Developing an online screening tool for women with symptoms to complete before seeing a GP;
  • Funding and commissioning research to develop a new non-invasive diagnostic test for endometriosis – with ultrasound, biomarkers in blood or genetic markers listed as possible avenues to pursue;
  • Investigate how to reduce the cost of care by reviewing MBS items and considering partnering with pharmaceutical companies to pursue new PBS listings for medications including the contraceptive pill, menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) and pain medications;
  • Improve access to medical diagnostic ultrasound and other imaging modalities to improve assessment of deep infiltrating endometriosis to assist with diagnosis preparation for laparoscopic surgery and timely access to follow up care;
  • Establish ‘Endometriosis Nurses’ similar to breast care nurses and ‘Centres of Expertise’ in specialised endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain care;
  • Consider development of a public register of endometriosis specialists;
  • Consider alternative and complementary providers where therapies are shown to work;
  • Establish a national Clinical Trials Network that coordinates support for research organisations to conduct clinical trials for endometriosis.
  • The plan was developed with input from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists, including Faculty of Pain Medicine.

Read the full action plan here 

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