Health Care

Today I rise with a concern that I have about the government's rushed decision-making when it comes to health and a lack of consultation. It is unfortunate that there are still ongoing issues with the lifesaving fast-acting insulin Fiasp being removed from the PBS, with an extension of six months, but come October, 15,000 Australians who use Fiasp won't be able to access this lifesaving insulin. In addition to this, I want to outline another issue with tendering within the National Diabetes Services Scheme. I spoke to Dexcom, which manufactures constant glucose monitoring technology. They advised that the government had made a hasty decision to rapidly proceed with a tendering process for the next generation of CGMs via the National Diabetes Services Scheme. I understand that the diabetes community became aware of this new tendering process via the AusTender website, not via consultation, late last year, saying that the tender process will end in March this year. That is not much time for manufacturers and the diabetes community to get things together. This is, of course, an issue, given that the Australian National Diabetes Strategy notes that the government will 'support consumer involvement in the assessment and evaluation of diabetes medicines and devices', and ensure that patients are 'involved in the codesign of any new initiatives'. But there has not been any of that consultation at all.

I am told that on 19 May AusTender's website had been updated to delay the tender to April to June next year, 2024. That has been welcomed. However, it was uncovered at the Senate estimates hearing on 2 June that the department noted that they intend to proceed with the tender, with it closing in early July this year, not next year. So, once again, the diabetes community has not been consulted. They do not have any time. This government is making hasty decisions.

It's quite extraordinary that the government would want to make a decision about technology impacting people with diabetes when we're actually going through a major inquiry with the parliamentary health committee on diabetes in Australia, so having not only no consultation but also a tender process close before we have gone through the inquiry process is quite extraordinary.

But that isn't the only part of the government's poor decision-making that impacts people with diabetes. I mentioned Fiasp. There's very limited time to get that negotiation happening. People will not have access to that very important medication. I've now spoken about a tender process that opened and shut really quickly and the lack of consultation. There's also been very, very poor communication with the community when it comes to psychology sessions. That was another rushed decision by this Albanese Labor government, where at the end of the year they made the decision to cut those psychology sessions from 20 to 10. For some reason, they won't reverse that decision. Now, we also have a 60-day dispensing rule, which was a big surprise to our local pharmacists, where they'll be over $150,000 worse off. The decisions that are being made by the Albanese Labor government in the health space are quite extraordinary,.

I'm particularly concerned about this latest one of a really short tendering time. Of course, we should have a tender process to get the best products and services available to our Australian community when taxpayers' dollars are involved. But with no consultation with the diabetes community and with such little time to have those tenders come through, it really seems to be against the National Diabetes Strategy. The decisions are against the mental health community in this country. I really wish this government would start putting a priority on the health of Australians because Australians deserve to have a government that wants the best for patient outcomes, and to ensure that healthcare providers can assist them as best they can. We have a minister who is not consulting with the patients, not consulting with the industry, and this will lead to worse outcomes for the health and wellbeing of Australians.

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