Despite being promised in May 2023, subsidised wound care products won’t be available until mid-2025.
The government’s promised $50 million subsidised wound care scheme won’t kick off until at least May 2025, leaving GPs out of pocket for two years following its announcement.
This year’s May budget set aside $47.8m to be delivered over five years to establish a chronic wound consumables scheme for diabetes patients, which would then get $12.3m per annum in ongoing funding.
It would be open to all people with diabetes aged 65 and older as well as Indigenous Australians with diabetes aged 50 yeas and over.
Because GPs are prohibited from raising any additional charges when they bulk bill, practices that provide chronic wound care to vulnerable patients are forced to either eat the cost of the consumables or request that the patient buys their own wound care products at retail prices.
Funding a chronic wound consumables scheme was one of the recommendations of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report, but the scheme hasn’t had much of a mention since being included in the budget.
The AMA pointed out as much in its recent submission to the diabetes inquiry being held by the House of Representatives’ standing committee on health and aged care.
The Medical Republic confirmed with the Department of Health and Aged Care that work on implementation of the consumables scheme was under way.
“Supply of subsidised wound consumable products will commence from 1 May 2025, allowing time for engagement with an expert advisory group to establish the range of products for subsidisation, the conduct of an approach to market for wound products, and the development and implementation of an online wound product ordering system by Services Australia,” a spokesman for the department said.
The proposed system will see healthcare workers ordering the products to a patient’s home via an online portal. It appears that the patient then brings the items to the appointment.
DoHAC also confirmed that there would be funding for a training and education program for primary health clinicians.
This will commence in the current financial year, along with a wound care education campaign for the general public.