31 March 2016
LYMPHOEDEMA SERVICES CUT LEAVING YARRA VALLEY PATIENTS IN LIMBO
Liberal Member for Evelyn Christine Fyffe has called on the Andrews Labor Government to reinstate critical lymphoedema services after funding cuts triggered the recent closure of the Lilydale lymphoedema clinic at Yarra Ranges Health.
On the 1st of February 2016, patients received a letter from Eastern Health stating that lymphoedema services would immediately cease from the 12th of February.
“For patients it was sudden and gave them little time to organise alternative treatment,” Mrs Fyffe said.
“Although Eastern Health appointed a case manager for patients to discuss the transition, the reality is that affected men and women will now be at the back of the queue for treatment elsewhere.
“Eastern Access Community Health at Ringwood is the next closest facility, but their waiting list has already blown out by months. Time is of the essence when managing swelling from lymphoedema.
The chronic swelling associated with the accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the body’s tissues can be very uncomfortable, disfiguring and a source of anxiety for sufferers.
Acknowledging lymphoedema as a priority, in 2010 the former Brumby Labor Government opened the Lymphoedema Clinic after intense lobbying from Mrs Fyffe to have services extended to Lilydale.
However, just six years later, the current Andrews Labor Government has cut funding for lymphoedema treatment.
“If the services were needed in 2010, why is the government saying that they are not needed in 2016? What has changed?
While the exact number of lymphoedmea sufferers is not known, it is estimated by the Lymphoedema Association of Victoria that around 300,000 Australians have some degree of lymphoedema.
“The best treatment for lymphoedema is therapeutic massage which requires specialist training.
“Ringwood only has one physiotherapist working part time who is trained in the specialist massage, yet they are expected to pick up the slack for an entire catchment.
“The only solution is for the Andrews Government to provide a funding boost to Eastern Health through the upcoming April State Budget so they can in turn reinstate the service at Yarra Ranges Health.