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Palliative care passed over in Review recommendations

Disappointment has cast a shadow on some major changes within the health industry’s Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for one Australian peak body after it was revealed that palliative care was neglected for consideration.

PCA is calling for a review of MBS items for palliative care after it was not included in the MBS Review Taskforce 2017/18 Public Consultation Timeline (Source: Shutterstock)
PCA is calling for a review of MBS items for palliative care after it was not included in the MBS Review Taskforce 2017/18 Public Consultation Timeline (Source: Shutterstock)

Palliative Care Australia (PCA) has issued calls for a review of MBS items for the area of palliative care across care setting to improve patient coordination and planning, after recognising that it was not included in the MBS Review Taskforce 2017/18 Public Consultation Timeline.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Palliative Care Australia Liz Callaghan says she welcomes the recent announcement of the Government's acceptance of major recommendations made by the MBS Review Taskforce, but encourages the Government to consider palliative care as a “future focus”, as outlined in PCA’s Pre-Budget Submission.

“The Productivity Commission’s recent report into human services found that between 80,000 and 140,000 of the 160,000 people who die each year in Australia could benefit from high-quality end-of-life care across all settings where it is delivered, and to allow users more choice over their place of death and the services they receive,” Ms Callaghan says.

“To deliver truly patient-centred care, palliative care professionals need to liaise and consult effectively with family members and other health professionals.

“Palliative care specialists are currently not able to access MBS items for case conferencing and family meetings that other specialists in similar fields can.”

Ms Callaghan adds that many tasks performed by palliative care professionals focus around the conduct of family meetings and case conferencing with other health professionals while a person is receiving palliative care.

“As an example, rehabilitation specialists and gerontologists can access MBS payments for inpatient case conferencing and family meetings, while palliative care specialists cannot.

“This needs to be considered as a priority by the MBS Review Taskforce.”

Chair of the MBS Review Taskforce Professor Bruce Robinson says he is pleased that the Government has accepted 38 major recommendations in full, and accepted two others in part.

The accepted changes to the MBS are in the areas of:

  • Dermatology, allergy and immunology
  • Knee imaging
  • Endocrinology
  • Renal medicine
  • Spinal surgery
  • Throadic medicine
  • Breast tomosynthesis
  • Capsule endoscopy

“All of the changes will improve patient care, help modernise the MBS, improve the MBS’s focus on clinical best practice, and provide greater value for money for patients, providers and the health system,” Professor Robinson says.

“The Government’s acceptance of these recommendations represents the latest in a number of major reforms recommended by the MBS Review Taskforce.”

The new MBS items are set to be introduced from 1 November 2018.

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