RESIDENTS OF LISMORE ELECTORATE PROTEST SYDNEY LABOR'S STINGY ASSISTANCE TO ISOLATED PATIENTS

RESIDENTS OF LISMORE ELECTORATE PROTEST SYDNEY LABOR'S STINGY ASSISTANCE TO ISOLATED PATIENTS

Residents Of Lismore Electorate Protest Sydney Labor's Stingy Assistance To Isolated Patients

4 March 2004

Over 7000 people, including residents from the Lismore electorate had joined The Nationals' petition to reduce the overly stringent eligibility criteria for country and coastal patients to access State Government financial assistance, The Nationals' Member for Lismore, Thomas George said today.

Mr George said The Nationals had started presenting the petitions in NSW Parliament last week.

"In NSW, cancer and other patients requiring specialist medical treatment are forced to meet the toughest criteria in Australia before the Sydney Labor Government will provide financial assistance towards the cost of travel and accommodation through the Isolated Patients' Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS)."

Mr George said to cancer patients and others had to travel more than 200 kilometres one way - a return trip of 400 kilometres - before Sydney Labor deemed them eligible for financial assistance.

"This compares unfavourably to every other State. In Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia patients are eligible for assistance after travelling 100 kilometres, in Tasmania assistance is provided after 75 kilometres and in Queensland after 50 kilometres.

"This means that a patient from Lismore attending John Flynn Hospital at Tugun would be denied assistance with travel and accommodation costs which they would otherwise receive if they lived in other States."

Mr George said the Sydney Labor Government also only allowed patients see their nearest treating specialist, denying them access to the medical specialist of their choice.

"This greatly restricts patients' access to the best available treatment and fails to take into account that the waiting times for the nearest specialist are often sky high."

Mr George said The Nationals' petition calls on Sydney Labor to reduce the IPTAAS distance criterion in line with other states.

"The current overly stringent eligibility criteria means seriously ill rural and regional patients are being forced to shoulder an unfair financial burden at a time when they are least able to cope.

"Health Minister, Morris Iemma, must show some compassion and immediately act to bring NSW into line with other States. He must change the IPTAAS distance criterion to help suffering cancer and other patients," Mr George said.

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577