The Ramsay Way 2018 | 02 9
Medibank and Ramsay join forces
to fund TMS
People suffering severe depression are being
offered an innovative treatment in a free trial at
The Adelaide Clinic — a metal coil on their heads
sending magnetic pulses to stimulate “mood cells”
in the brain.
Insurer Medibank is funding the trial at the psychiatric
hospital, at a cost of around $3600 a person, to see if it
delivers good outcomes and keeps costs down.
At present there is no Medicare rebate for the treatment
but a successful trial may see approval. A US study found
transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has proven to be
effective in 58 percent of patients with depression who do
not respond to medication.
An Adelaide University study also concluded it can be an
The 12-month national trial now has 70 people enrolled and
may recruit up to 500.
Patients remain awake, no anaesthetic is needed and the
sessions, taking about 30 minutes, have minimal side effects.
Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan said: “I’m very
proud that Medibank is investing in a breakthrough and
innovative treatment for a significant disease area”.
The treatment has been used in Australia for about a decade
but is not widely available and costs around $180 a session
for about 20 sessions.
Under the trial, patients with severe depression who do not
respond to medication, who are referred by a psychiatrist and
accepted for treatment, will face no costs.
Adelaide psychiatrist Professor Cherrie Galletly previously
has referred patients for TMS treatment and can see its
potential to be the first choice therapy ahead of medication,
as there is no need for anaesthetic and no side effects apart
from the occasional headache.
“I’ve had some excellent responses, about one-third to one-half
get some benefit and some get well when they have not been
well for many years,” she said. “I can see it as a first option
treatment, as anti-depression drugs can have side effects and
some jobs have a problem with people on medication.“
“ECT is more effective but it is done under anaesthetic, can
affect memory and some people have problems with stigma
of such treatment.” Prof Galletly said there had been two
unsuccessful applications to have TMS put on the Medicare
schedule but unlike big pharmaceutical companies,
clinicians concerned about better patient treatment have
Medibank backs Gallipoli
Medical Research Foundation
The Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation has
been selected as one of the first groups to receive
funding through the new Medibank Mental Health
& Wellbeing Fund which will allocate $1 million in
2018 to support mental health of Australians.
The initial focus of the funding will be on
ex-defence personnel and their families.
Based at Greenslopes Private Hospital in Brisbane, the Gallipoli
Medical Research Foundation is focused solely on helping
Australia’s military community and the funds will be used to
develop and pilot a new mental health program for veterans and
Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation CEO Miriam Dwyer said:
“We are absolutely thrilled to have the support of Medibank
to undertake these high impact initiatives. We believe that the
inclusion of partners and families in the recovery process is critical
to delivering positive, long term mental health and wellbeing
benefits for veterans.”
The MHWF patron is The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce. The
former Australian Governor- General is a long-time supporter of
improving the mental health of women, adolescents, those in rural
areas, indigenous communities and the military.
Ms Bryce remains passionate about the importance of an open
and honest dialogue around mental health and reducing the
stigma associated with seeking help.
Dame Quentin Bryce said: “I have been involved in mental health
advocacy throughout my career, and I have learnt a great deal
from families and health professionals. Awareness of mental
wellbeing has come a long way, and as a community we are
talking more about it. I commend Medibank for taking this practical
step and providing support where it will make a difference.”
Medibank CEO Craig Drummond said: “Mental health is a growing
concern for many Australians, including our serving and transitioning
ADF personnel, with a greater number of people seeking treatment.
Their needs can often be unique and complex. The Medibank
Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund will this year provide funding to
organisations who support veterans and their families.”
Medibank has recently announced it will cover
the cost of scalp cooling treatments at Ramsay
Health Care facilities following a recognition of
the benefits for patients.
Scalp cooling is an effective treatment for reducing
hair loss for chemotherapy patients. Losing their
hair is one of the major concerns of patients with a
cancer diagnosis particularly women, and has a major
psychological impact on the individual.
Pindara Private Hospital on the Gold Coast is the latest
hospital in the Ramsay Health Care group to introduce
scalp cooling. Scalp cooling works by constricting the
blood vessels in the scalp which in turn reduces the
amount of chemotherapy drugs that are delivered to the
hair follicles. The scalp cooling treatment also reduces
the local metabolic rate which minimises the cellular
uptake of the chemotherapy drug at the hair follicle.
While the treatment has only been available in Australia
for the past three years, scalp cooling has been
available to patients overseas for more than 25 years.
There had been some debate in Australia as to its
effectiveness, but these concerns have been alleviated
more recently with the constant improvement of the
technique and equipment available.
One UK observational study reported an 89% success
rate using the scalp cooling treatment in breast cancer
patients, with only 11% experiencing severe hair loss
Pindara Oncologist Dr Andrea Tazbirkova is very
positive about the treatment being made available to
patients at Pindara.
“There is now quite a robust body of evidence of its
benefits and I feel that scalp cooling should be offered
to every patient undergoing breast cancer treatment. I'm
personally very excited to be able to offer this technology
to my patients at Pindara,” Dr Tazbirkova said.
At the announcement of funding The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce
and Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation CEO Miriam Dwyer
A patient tries out the scalp cooling during
chemotherapy at Pindara Private Hospital