Major parties united in approach to tackle heart health issues

Both sides of politics have announced their support for comprehensive heart health checks.

Major parties unite on heart checks

The Liberal and Labor parties have announced their support for comprehensive heart health checks to be financed by Medicare.

Labor announced that in government it would spend $170 million on a new Medicare item for comprehensive heart health checks to support doctors in better preventing, detecting and managing heart disease.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has also announced that from 1 April this year there will be a dedicated Medicare item to support GPs to assess cardiovascular risk.

Consumers Health Forum chief executive Leanne Wells supported the announcements and expected them to make considerable inroads into addressing heart health issues.

“Even though there is one case of heart attack or stroke occurring in Australia every five minutes, too many Australians don’t realise the importance of checking how their heart is performing,” Ms Wells explained. “This check should nudge more patients and their doctors to make that check.

“We also need to do much more in the way of preventive health measures, to educate people and promote better diet and lifestyles to reduce obesity and other chronic illnesses that increase the risk of heart disease. 

“The heart check plan is a good down payment in the wider investment we need in prevention. It should also provide support for general practice to better prevent and manage chronic disease in enrolled patients. We will be watching the development of those approaches with much interest.

“The suggestion that this heart health check be part of a Medicare-funded comprehensive health check for other lifestyle risk factors should be embedded in the Health Care Home enrolment model, making the most of general practitioners as the accessible, appropriate and trusted setting for preventive health care.

“However, we need to acknowledge that a new Medicare item number is not an end in itself. Such a development needs to be accompanied by a package of wider reforms that include patient supports such as self-management programs, access to health coaching and use of patient activation measures by GPs so they better understand the likelihood that patients are receptive to and will follow up on lifestyle advice,” Ms Wells said.

Would a Medicare-funded heart check encourage you to have check-ups more regularly?



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    26th Feb 2019
    Fortunately my GP sees me every 6 weeks or so to check on my heart and other issues (blood pressure, vaccinations, asthma and weight etc) as well as comprehensive blood tests at least once a year. I also go to a cardiologist every year for heart stress check. So far so good, no bad issues.

    26th Feb 2019
    You see, Ben Hocking, when you report the truth but only part of the truth, you can give a distinctly wrong impression on a story. I first read this story in a local paper which reported "Opposition Leader Bill Shorten matched the $170 million over five years for general practice in Melbourne, just hours after a Liberal counterpart announced the same plan."

    Your effort has left out the part where the government first proposed an amount that Labor has matched giving the impression that the government is either not giving any funding or is giving a much lesser amount. Surely the whole truth is not too hard to publish is it?
    26th Feb 2019
    Given the lies coming from your beloved LNP, and its disgusting record of historical lies, I expect this will all be yet another broken Li(e)beral promise.
    26th Feb 2019
    So I take it that you agree with the way this article was posted Knows-a-lot? My point was about leaving out a part of the truth to make a story appear the opposite to what the truth is. If you read the majority of my posts, they are about pointing out lies and trying to reveal the truth.
    26th Feb 2019
    OM - sadly the truth is not in you. Your posts are from the LNP script and trying to discredit posters who disagree is your method of operation.
    26th Feb 2019
    What diagnostic procedures would be covered under this heart check-up proposal? Just a stress test, or scans including with injected contrast medium, etc. Would the Medicare item be covered annually or only every two or three years. More details needed please.
    26th Feb 2019
    What diagnostic procedures would be covered under this heart check-up proposal? Just a stress test, or scans including with injected contrast medium, etc. Would the Medicare item be covered annually or only every two or three years. More details needed please.
    26th Feb 2019
    It is not a good idea to start major projects on 1st April

    27th Feb 2019
    This article doesn't provide the details of what tests are to be covered. From what I heard on the media, these are very basic tests (e.g. Blood pressure, Cholesterol, Obesity, etc), nothing which GPs would not be doing already, or what they SHOULD be doing already. Looks like a scheme to pay GPs to do their job - double-dipping?

    If it was genuine, they should also include Stress Echo tests, and Heart Scans for Calcium score - but I am definite I didn't hear of those. I hope some GPs at least recommend these as further follow-ups if they have any suspicions - with Gaps out of your pocket (Ms Wells needs to be more explicit about what they should fund)! For your own good.
    15th Mar 2019
    So glad my GP does yearly( near my birthday ) tests. Stool, blood and urine then height and weighy. Every visit she reminds me of problem areas and keeps a watching brief. She schedules Pap smears too. Brilliant lady
    27th Mar 2019
    Hello Mr. Hunt, Election time around the corner perhaps?. Let me blow this conniving, deceitful and egotistical vermin wide open. Those of you who have had a recent TIA please stand up!. Well, I did last week and this is my horrific experience. Let me explain.

    A TIA is a partial stroke, and if your lucky, you should recover about 95% of your faculties. In other words, after a TIA, part of your brain cells die yes die, and won't be replaced or renewed. So if your around 75 years of age when it happens, I'm sure you would like to see how much and which part of your brain has died. That's if you expect to live another 10 years or so.

    You don't know you're having a stroke except when you try to talk, firstly, you can't remember words and secondly when you try to speak words, gibberish instead comes out. This gradually passes and by the time the ambulance arrives, assuming some kind person has noticed your behavior and called an ambulance, you start to speak properly again- a period of 10-15 minutes. The ambulance ferries you at a reasonable speed to the nearest hospital you nominate, assuming they have capacity and facilities to treat heart attacks.
    At this point, nobody, I mean nobody, knows how bad your TIA is.

    The ambulance crew have a pretty good idea and do heart monitoring all the way to EMERGENCY ADMISSIONS at the hospital. Everything is urgent up to this point. The ambulance crew hand you over to the EMERGENCY RECEPTION CREW for further processing, remembering that after a TIA, the major stroke that can kill you will either come in the next 12-48 hours, or if you're spared, you may slowly recover.

    Am I making the point of urgency? Here's where the hospital system breaks down. Take special note Mr. State Minister of Health and you too Mr. Hunt, in charge of Federal Government Health Department and Medicare.

    You are told to sit and wait for a Triage Nurse to see you and assess your situation. Time of arrival at Box Hill Hospital, Victoria 4.15 pm in the afternoon. People sitting 15 - 20 waiting for their nose bleed or cough to be treated. You become a number. You approach the desk and mention to those cold, indifferent reception clerks, that you've just had a heart attack, and could someone please see you. Because you talk ok and look ok at this point, and your brain cells have long died anyway, they consider you non-urgent. They are not medically trained remember. Three more hours pass, time now 8:30 pm in the evening. As your last meal was 7.30 am that morning and your diabetic, you need to eat something or you will collapse from hunger.

    You haven't been admitted yet, so don't expect even a sandwich, anyway, the kitchen closed hours ago. At 11.00 pm, that night a doctor passes by, and you plead for something to eat, and thanks to that doctor, she managed to find some crackers to chew on, as she didn't want a death on her watch. I noticed there was one Triage Nurse on duty, with about 50 "patients" to be seen. She checked on a dozen toddlers first the majority of whom, had a cough or runny noses. It gets worse!.

    The time is now 1:15 am (Early morning) 8-3/4 hours after arriving in EMERGENCY.

    A young trainee doctor calls me in for a check-up and test. His face was white and grave, knowing full well that at my age and condition, I could have had a major stroke while I was waiting for attention.

    He must have referred me onto someone with authority because nurses appeared from nowhere, I was plugged into several heart monitoring machines at once, blood tests galore and ECG’s, Electrocardiograms, pulse rate, you name it. Then at 3.15 am in the morning, they put me through the cat scan machine for an X-ray of the brain. So, somehow they managed to get this machine working in the early morning hours. As I had a small TIA about 12 years ago, I knew that Catscans were not much use, the proper machine was to have an MRI, which does show up living and dead brain cells.. I asked when could I have an MRI. The answer shocked me. They said the MRI section had closed around 10.30 pm, about 4 hours before, so stiff! No MRI. (By the way, I know a lot about Cat Scans and MRI machines, having installed several at various hospitals while hospital architect). A cat scan basically shows bone structure and the MRI shows tissue, hence brain cells. The MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is also less deadly than X-Rays. The reason the machines are expensive is because they work properly and the big boys bought up the machines while governments procrastenated and now have to pay through the nose to get to use one. A bit like governments selling off the SEC to make a fast buck, even airports, toll roads, ports, trains, buses, schools, Tafe Colleges. The solution to kill public hospitals, is to make them so unpleasant, no-one in their right mind would want to go there. This is so governments can claim they have balanced the budget by reducing costs. That's pure rubbish. All they are doing is firstly burning taxpayer's money, killing off their resposibility towards schools and hospitals and any other public service. As long as they can buy votes and stay in power, that's their philosophy, bugger everyone else.

    (Note MR. Hunt, what mess you have to fix and which you personally caused, you sniveling liar when you cut the MRI funding in the first place, and now the backlash is mounting and people are waking up to your tactics, so your introducing medical help to heart trauma patients as an election ploy, basically re-introducing what you cut out the past year or so).

    The story gets worse! I am told I will be discharged in the morning. Breakfast – a slice of bread, some butter and a small cup of orange juice and a cup of coffee so vile I didn’t think a human could make it so bad.

    No heart specialist sees me at the hospital, no MRI (although they had plenty of time to do one) and as the discharge doctor? Nurse? who knows, had to write up my discharge papers, I was finally released at midday. I immediately made an appointment to see my local GP. He was horrified a public hospital could give such poor service. He immediately ordered one ECG test, One Electro Cardiogram and one MRI and one 24 hour Heart Monitor Holster, which should have been done at the hospital.

    Now, step in and explain yourself, Mr. Hunt, for the great disservice you have done to me. Because you cut out MRI’s wherever possible, I had to pay the full MRI service cost (average $380). I rang Bupa, after paying full private hospital cover for 35 years. Sorry, we don’t pay for MRI’s, because you are no longer an inpatient at a hospital. Also, since Medicare don’t pay for MRI’s unless a specialist recommends it, no pay. My GP who lectures at Universities, doesn’t qualify. Then I rang Canberra to speak to the person responsible for making the rules of approvals for MRI’s. He admitted they had to reign in the use of MRI’s because of cost _NOTE MR GREG HUNT::::, your own department admits it is because of cost. So don’t come in telling me you’re going to do something for the public. You are a liar! Tell us the real reason if it’s not for vote catching the gullible public.

    So when can a person have an MRI. Your Medicare Department, which you head and are responsible for considers a stroke is not good enough reason, and why is it not free, since it’s a medical emergency? You admitted after colossal pressure to introduce PBS cover for expensive cancer drugs, but I note the number of cancer patients requiring such drugs is no where near heart patients having TIA’s, what what’s more important, dying slowly over ten years (if one’s lucky) or more quickly around three months for a cancer patient, then the cost becomes much less, doesn’t it Mr. Hunt.

    I challenge you to a public debate Mr. Hunt. Why are you still sucking up to ScoMO instead of telling him where to jump. You tried to knife him in the back last year but decided your ego and your job was more important to stay where you are. SHAME! SHAME! And a pox on all your houses.

    Finally, no-one and of all the people I asked in government, NO ONE, in your Government, or for that matter the State Government can explain why an MRI is no longer free. If you are not a liar and you are game you will respond and answer to me.

    JoJo Zep

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