State Gov. supports Bell's call for lymphoedema compression garment subsidy scheme

Wednesday September 19, 2018

Publsihed by Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell MP

A bid to introduce a statewide subsidy scheme for lymphoedema compression garments by Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell, has won approval from the State Government.

Mr Bell made the three-part motion in State Parliament on Wednesday, which was voted on and passed by a majority.

Secondary lymphoedema is a chronic condition caused by an accumulation of lymphatic fluid and develops in parts of the body after treatment for melanoma, prostate, breast and gynaecological cancers.

The condition is managed using compression garments, which have to be professionally fitted and depending on the severity of the condition, can cost between $200 - $3,500 a year.

Mr Bell said he introduced the motion after learning South Australia is the only state in Australia which does not subsidise the garments.

“In every other state or territory, the cost of these garments is subsidised, sometimes up to 100 per cent and it is high time South Australia joined the rest of the nation,” he said.

“This condition hits cancer survivors at a time in their lives when they are trying to get back on their feet following treatment and they need both support and financial assistance.”

In his speech, Mr Bell referred to the experiences of two Mount Gambier women - Dulcie Hoggan and Pam Moulden.

Both women had developed lymphoedema in their arms following treatment for breast cancer.

“In order for Dulcie and Pam to live a comfortable life, they rely on daytime and night-time compression garments and the life span of these is around 6 months,” Mr Bell said.

“It’s important to recognise this is a lifelong condition – there is no cure for lymphoedema. Over a lifetime, the cost of these garments can add up to thousands and thousands of dollars – a huge financial burden upon survivors of cancer.”

Mr Bell’s motion was backed by the President of the Lymphoedema Support Group of SA, Monique Bareham, who said the group had been actively lobbying for a state subsidy scheme for more than two years.

“It’s an issue of inequity for patients in South Australia,” she said. “This has been swept under the carpet for too long.”

Introducing a South Australian subsidy scheme will also reduce pressures on the state’s health system, Mr Bell said.

“If lymphoedema goes untreated, it can cause a serious health condition known as cellulitis, often requiring long periods of hospitalisation.

“Making these garments affordable to people at the beginning of their diagnosis means more people will access them, decreasing the number of complications.

“It would be far more cost efficient for the State Government to subsidise compression garments and ongoing therapy, rather than having to support patients during long hospital stays.”