There’s an endometriosis clinic in every state

4 minute read

In the past year over 20 clinics have opened across the country, providing low-cost or free GP-led multidisciplinary care.

GPs can now refer patients to one of the 22 pelvic pain and endometriosis clinics across the country for free or low-cost services by a multidisciplinary team. 

Over the past year, 22 of the clinics have opened across the country. 

The move was part of a 2022 election promise made by both the Coalition and Labor governments to fund at least 16 new pelvic pain and endometriosis clinics nationwide. 

The centres, most of which have been established in existing GP clinics, are now in every state and territory and will each receive about $700,000 from the government over four years. 

Speaking to Rheumatology Republic, Dr Danielle Stewart, GP practice owner of Darwin’s funded clinic at Northside Health NT, said they had had “wonderful feedback” from patients. 

“My personal observation is that while I know money also needs to be put into guidelines and reports, when you give money to the coalface like this, clinicians really get things done,” she told RR

“It is excellent use of money and patient populations benefit immediately.  

“This is rewarding for both patients and practitioners!” 

According to Dr Stewart, the parameters of the funding provided by DoHAC has been “very open”. 

“The grant defines our target population as any girl, woman or person assigned female at birth with pelvic pain or known endometriosis,” she said. 

“The grant recommendations include that we provide a free or low cost service, and that it be multi-disciplinary and accessible to vulnerable populations.” 

This allows for each clinic’s model to be “unique”, added Dr Stewart. 

“Most of us share a common base model- the provision of free or low cost clinical services with GPs and other members of the multi-disciplinary team, usually women’s health nurses and pelvic physiotherapists, and sometimes psychologists and dietitians,” said Dr Stewart. 

“Many clinics are also running a second service parallel to this which is a series of group education sessions on key topics to provide people with high quality information about self-management and lifestyle approaches, and an understanding of the health issues involved.” 

Most clinics use a model of mixed referrals, allowing both self-referral and referral by a local practitioner like a GP of pelvic physio, noted Dr Stewart. 

“Here in Darwin we have a good working relationship with our local public gynae department,” she said. 

“They enjoy referring to us, and we participate in their department’s education program.”  

While the number of patients passing through clinics is location-dependent, Dr Stewart’s clinic in Darwin has seen 51 patients, amounting to 120 consults in total. 

Dr Stewart said that while most regional clinics have had similar numbers, the Benowa Super Clinic on the Gold Coast had seen 350 patients since opening. 

Most clinics opened around August/September last year. 

Part of the government’s requirements for the clinics is their availability to all populations. 

“There is one First Nations health service funded (MATSICHS in Brisbane) and many of us are watching them closely for ideas as it is very important that these services are accessible to a range of specific populations,” said Dr Stewart. 

“In Darwin this year we will start promoting the clinic more widely and this will include attending the orientations and education programs for remote nurses and doctors, so that they can recommend the service to their remote First Nations patients who will use telehealth to access our services.  

“We also run a separate funded LGBTIQA+ service and so we also have an interest in making sure our service is promoted and accessible to people assigned female at birth who no longer identify as that gender.  

“It is well recognised that trans men have a high rate of endometriosis and pelvic pain.” 

As well as directing implementation of the clinic in Darwin, Dr Stewart chairs the community of practice of the 22 funded clinics across the country. 

“We meet monthly (initially it was fortnightly) and have a close collaboration including sharing resources, professional development opportunities, clinic models, successes and tips,” she said. 

“It has been a highly valuable networking experience which has helped us all implement some consistent approaches such as our patient reported outcome measures.” 

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