AP Chief Executive Officer, Ms Liesel Wett, said that Australian Pathology has had a productive working relationship with the Morrison Government and now looks forward to this continuing as demonstrated by the Government’s commitment to continuing health care reform with Minister Hunt.
The Federal Government needs to immediately commit to a major investment in pathology test screening for cystic fibrosis and to make such tests more available for all couples planning a family.
Australian Pathology, which represents 95 per cent of the industry’s private pathology organisations in Australia, said such screening was the missing link in the Morrison Coalition Government’s announcement yesterday, but would complement the announcement of funding for a cystic fibrosis centre in Sydney.
Cystic Fibrosis Australia says the inherited disorder has a birth prevalence in Australia of approximately one in 3700.
Approximately 1 in 25 Australians are carriers of a genetic mutation responsible for cystic fibrosis.
Australian Pathology Chief Executive Officer Liesel Wett said pathology screening for cystic fibrosis was essential.
“The announcement of a cystic fibrosis center was welcome but there is more that needs to be done and pathology screening is a critical element. Prevention seems to be missing in the Prime Minister’s announcement.
“The tests for three inherited conditions – Fragile X syndrome, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and Cystic Fibrosis – are non-invasive blood tests and regarded as worldwide best practice for women and their partners to be performed before pregnancy or early in pregnancy,” Ms Wett said.
“These diseases are responsible for significant morbidity and premature mortality both in infancy and adulthood and place an enormous financial burden on parents and the healthcare system.”
Ms Wett said pathology testing was essential to help identify carriers.
“With one in 25 people being a potential carrier of a single copy of the cystic fibrosis gene change it is important to be tested,” she said.
“Significantly, people who carry one copy of the cystic fibrosis gene change do not have any symptoms of the condition.
“Testing is necessary to identify carriers.
“If two people carry the cystic fibrosis gene change and they have a child, each pregnancy will have a one-in-four chance that the child will have cystic fibrosis.”
Ms Wett said the cystic fibrosis tests currently were not listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule, despite the industry push for them to be listed.
“The listing of this test on the MBS is something we have been calling for, for many years. Without this, it means that only those couples that can afford to pay for this test are able to access it under the current situation, and those that cannot afford to, do not have the test,” she said.
“Funding for the test prior to pregnancy would seem like a no-brainer. The test is actually one that helps inform parents and investing in it makes good sense. “Australian Pathology calls on the Morrison
CEO, Australian Pathology
Commitments by Labor to ease the burden on cancer patients by investing $200 million in pathology tests for older Australians and Australians with cancer if it wins Government at the next election have been welcomed by Australian Pathology, the national peak body representing private pathology in Australia.
Australian Pathology Chief Executive Officer, Liesel Wett, said the announcement that Labor would invest some $2.3 billion to cut out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients which includes the investment to protect bulk billing for pathology tests would be a great relief for patients during a very difficult and vulnerable time.
“This sort of approach to cancer treatment is long overdue and is something that patients have been seeking for a long time,” Ms Wett said.
“Building on Labor’s initiative through an investment in pathology services which are pivotal to the diagnosis of this disease is the missing link in cancer services.
“In fact, 100 per cent of all cancers are diagnosed by a pathologist in a pathology laboratory so investment in this sector would serve to reinforce and build on Labor’s announced commitment.
“It would provide further benefit for patients and complete the circle on investment in cancer health services.
“Australian Pathology welcomes this investment in pathology services because, after all, pathology is diagnosing the cancer in patients.”
Ms Wett stressed that in order to maintain bulk billing for older Australians and cancer patients that an investment such as this into pathology services would ensure patients continued to get their pathology tests for free.
“Sometimes pathology is the forgotten area in the health sector,” Ms Wett said.
“But if a patient has ever had a blood test, swab or biopsy, they’ve used the services of a pathologist.
“Pathology services are essential in the healthcare system, with 70 per cent of medical decisions and 100 per cent of cancer diagnoses relying on pathology tests.
“These services are essential in the management of most diseases, especially chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, hepatitis and HIV.
“Our members, who represent 95 per cent of the industry’s pathology services in Australia, are committed to the provision of high quality, affordable, safe and accessible pathology service to all Australians.
“Australian Pathology looks forward to working with all political parties to increase investment in Pathology tests to benefit all Australians.”
CEO, Australian Pathology
0414 434 581
Australian Pathology is the peak body representing private pathology in Au
25 March 2019
CANBERRA: Australian Pathology, representing private pathology providers, has announced its campaign to ensure pathology tests are protected from cuts kicks off today in more than 5000 pathology collection centres across Australia.
Chief Executive Officer of Australian Pathology, Liesel Wett, said;
“The sector has provided savings to the Government for many years but cannot continue to absorb funding cuts. We are asking all politicians to show their support for this vital medical service by pledging that they will not cut pathology funding.
“We want to make sure patients don’t miss out on life-saving tests. Australians should be confident that politicians of any party will protect funding for pathology tests and keep the sector sustainable,” Ms Wett said.
The Australian Medical Association’s position statement1 on pathology supports appropriate funding for the sector, saying;
“Over two decades of stagnant government funding to both the private and public pathology sectors particularly threaten the sustainability of pathology practices providing comprehensive services, as well as investment in essential research and training. The ongoing erosion of pathology in the pursuit of necessary ‘efficiencies’ represents a risk to the whole health system.”
The long-term freeze on rebates for pathology tests has meant many areas of pathology are now underfunded and additional funding in these areas should be a priority.
This will mean all tests remain accessible to all Australians, and will ensure pathology testing in Australia keeps pace with developments elsewhere in the world, particularly in the areas of genomics and molecular pathology.
As part of the campaign patients will be invited to sign a paper petition when visiting a pathology collection centre. There is also an online petition at protectourtests.com.au and the facility to contact Members of Parliament and Senators about the issue.
“The Protect Our Tests campaign will ensure all Australians are aware of the need for continued funding, in order to maintain high bulk billing rates of over 99% for pathology services,” Ms Wett said.
“The expertise of pathologists for diagnosis and management of chronic and life threatening diseases is a vital part of our medical system. Underfunding could lead to patients having to pay, or a reduction in services. This means people might delay getting the tests they need, with more long term costs to the health system.”
“We are more than willing to work with all sides of politics to ensure our pathology services continue to be world class, long into the future. We don’t want patient healthcare impacted by any cuts to funding.
“We are asking patients to protect their pathology tests, like they did in 2016 where almost 600,000 Australians told our politicians they would not support $650 million worth of cuts to pathology services.”
“Our campaign ensures patients ask their local politicians and candidates to do just that, continue to fund the pathology services patients need.”
Politicians can pledge their support by contacting the campaign.
The campaign website can be found at www.protectourtests.com.au
CEO, Australian Pathology
0414 434 581
Annette Stenhouse, London Agency0416 861 732