28 January 2004

The Nationals' Member for Lismore Thomas George today urged people to join The Nationals in their fight for increased State Government assistance for country and coastal cancer patients.

Mr George said The Nationals had launched a petition calling on the Carr Labor Government to review the criterion country cancer patients had to meet to access financial assistance under the NSW Isolated Patients' Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS).

"In order to qualify for financial assistance in NSW, cancer patients must travel in excess of 200 kilometres one way for treatment, whereas in South Australia and Victoria, the distance is 100 kilometres, and in Queensland it is 50 kilometres. These distance criteria are the toughest in Australia and this inequity is simply unfair."

He said the petition also called on the Sydney Labor Government to give patients the chance to choose their own specialist.

"Patients are currently required to see only their nearest treating specialist. This not only restricts patients' access to the best available treatment but also fails to take into account that the waiting times for the nearest specialist may be sky high."

Mr George said these conditions meant rural and regional cancer patients faced an unfair financial burden and were detrimentally affected by waiting times, varying quality of care and an inability to participate in clinical trials.

"Ready access to medical specialists at a time of need is taken for granted in the city - why should it be any different in the country?

"It is inequitable that in NSW, country and coastal cancer patients are made to jump through unrealistic hoops to access help under IPTAAS."

He said the petition for a better deal for cancer patients in country areas had the support of a number of cancer advocacy and support groups.

"I would strongly encourage people to come into my Electorate Office at 55 Carrington Street and join the State-wide push for a fair go for country cancer patients. Petitions can also be obtained by calling 66213624.

"It's time to send a message to Bob Carr and his Labor MPs that treating country cancer patients as second class citizens is not on," Thomas George said.

Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 1800 336 166 or 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403  Email:

Authorised by Thomas George MP. Funded using Parliamentary entitlements.