To: The Hon. Jillian Gell Skinner, MP
We request that every tertiary referral hospital in New South Wales provide onsite or nearby accommodation that is affordable (at the Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme rebate rate), accessible (wheelchair accessibility included) and that allows people to cook meals. Providing adequate and affordable accommodation for country patients referred to city hospitals for treatment is essential for equitable healthcare.
NSW regional and rural patients suffering from serious illnesses, like myself, are often forced to spend days to months living away from their homes in order to receive the life-saving treatment they require. The Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme rebates are no longer representative of commercial accommodation costs in metropolitan areas.
For these reasons it is imperative that all tertiary referral hospitals in NSW have affordable and accessible, on-site or nearby patient accommodation for those traveling from regional and rural towns to receive metropolitan medical care.
Why is this important?
I have a very serious autoimmune disease that requires regular treatment that is not offered at my local hospital in northern country NSW. This means that I must travel to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) one week every month to receive the necessary treatment.
Up until now, the RNSH has accommodated patients from the country at Blue Gum Lodge which was wheelchair friendly, close to the hospital and allowed people to cook meals – which is essential particularly when treatment is prolonged or frequent. However, Blue Gum Lodge closed as of 31st January 2014. Sadly it is not the first country patient accommodation to close in Sydney. Prince of Wales Hospital (POWH) and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) have also done the same in the past few years. One by one, major hospitals in NSW are closing their accommodation for country patients.
In my career as a Remote Area General Practitioner I saw people having to turn down treatment because they could not afford the accommodation. I also saw families financially destroyed by the huge bills that resulted from long stays in the city for life-saving treatment. We are all vulnerable as many treatments for varying diseases and injuries have been centralised meaning they are only available in the city. To make health care fair and equitable this government needs to provide affordable and accessible accommodation near every tertiary (major) hospital in the state. This includes centres such as Gosford and Newcastle.
The Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) is only a subsidy. It covers at most $60/night for 2 people. The IPTAAS rebates are no longer representative of commercial accommodation costs in metropolitan areas. Commercial accommodation is open to seasonal variability in both availability and cost. Wheelchair friendly accommodation is also poorly available and expensive. Providing cooking facilities is essential so that nutritious and affordable meals can be prepared while away from home.
There is a well documented divide between the health of rural people and the health of city people and it is a gap that is unacceptable. Providing accommodation that is affordable and accessible is one very important step to closing that gap.
is the link to the petition please sign http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/no-more-accommodation-for-country-patients-in-the-city?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1391941528