Hon Judi Moylan

Adjournment - National Diabetes Services Scheme: 25th Anniversary

Mrs MOYLAN (Pearce) (16:39): Madam Speaker, may I congratulate you on your elevation to high office. Last night, Diabetes Australia celebrated 25 years of administering the National Diabetes Services Scheme. The NDSS is a world-leading program, delivering diabetes related products at subsidised prices across the country. Prior to the scheme operating, consumables, such as syringes, were not subsidised, meaning the management of diabetes was incredibly expensive. To illustrate the difference this program made, Judith McLeod, who was one of the first people to be a registered participant of the scheme in 1987, told guests at the celebratory function last night how she was given only one glass needle that was intended to last her forever, due to the cost. She told us how she once accidentally dropped the needle from the syringe down the sink and could not recover it. She went without medication for 24 hours. Medication, too, was difficult to get, so rigorous planning was needed to ensure that she had sufficient supplies to last, particularly over holiday periods. Through the establishment of the scheme, vital medications and equipment can now be easily accessed across the country by walking into any pharmacy with an NDSS logo, or calling up the national telephone service.

The scheme has expanded over its life—I am pleased to say it has had bipartisan support in this parliament over a very lengthy period of time—and has allowed new technologies to be added, improving the management of diabetes for hundreds of thousands of people. One of the most important and recent additions was the listing of pump consumables, particularly for children, ensuring diabetics could afford the peripheral items used to operate an insulin pump.

Not only does the NDSS improve the lives of individuals, it represents a significant cost saving to the health budget. Proper management of diabetes ensures that patients do not develop more severe complications that require hospitalisation, or even the amputation of limbs. That message was brought home very clearly to members of this place this week. The Australasian Podiatry Council was in Parliament House yesterday demonstrating the ease with which proper patient management can save limbs. It is a regrettable, but also preventable, fact that 19.6 per cent of diabetes sufferers in Australia, over 200,000 people, have some form of peripheral arterial disease, which potentially places them at risk of requiring amputation. But if it is picked up early and managed properly, such drastic measures as amputation can be avoided, saving people's limbs and their quality of life, and many millions to the health system. In fact, the Australasian Podiatry Council's 2012 budget submission notes that up to $397 million per year could be saved by implementing more modest foot checks.

Translating research into workable products is another area where Australia can lead, and in many cases has led, the world in the fight against diabetes. With the support of the Parliamentary Diabetes Support Group the islet transplant centre of excellence was established. While speaking with members of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation recently, it was highlighted that where Australia once provided funds to US researchers, the depth of Australia's research talent has now seen money flow from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in the United States to our shores. But we still lag on the all-important step of translating that research into clinical trials, which leads to medication and products which could improve, and indeed save, the lives of people across the globe.

The success of programs such as the NDSS demonstrates that proper patient management is a critical factor in reducing the lives, limbs and money lost to diabetes in the community. The program is a beacon to government to investigate further initiatives that have the potential to save not only Australian lives but those of people across the world. I congratulate Diabetes Australia on its success over the 25 years and look forward to new initiatives in this critical area being endorsed by the government. It is not so much the cost of medicine that we should be concerned about but the cost of undiagnosed diabetes that is the problem. (Time expired)


Useful links

  • Grantslink
    A list of available grants and where to apply for them