A cancer charity says rural patients will no longer have to consider foregoing treatment or selling their homes as the NSW Government increases payments for medical trips.
The government will fund $149.5 million for changes to the Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Program, which supports rural populations who travel long distances for health care that is not available locally.
Under changes to be included in Tuesday’s state budget, mileage payments will increase from 22 cents to 40 cents per kilometer for patients who travel more than 100 miles.
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Payments for a week’s accommodation have increased by 75%, from $43 to $75 a night, with a flat rate of $120 for people spending more than a week away from home.
“If we as government can do one thing to support people and their families during a time of great emotional and financial distress, it is this,” Regional Health Minister Bronnie Taylor said in a statement on Monday. a statement.
The need to overhaul the plan was at the center of the state’s inquiry into rural and regional health care.
Its final report recommended increasing reimbursements and making the claims process easier, following testimonies from distressed patients and their families that they had been forced out of their jobs to travel for treatment.
Emma Phillips, executive director of cancer charity Can Assist, said some patients have had to consider selling their homes or going without treatment because of the cost of travel.
Many rural patients have to turn to charities to avoid making these sacrifices, Ms Phillips said.
“The costs aren’t just accommodation – it’s your food, your communications, your life away from home and the drain that weighs you down,” Ms Phillips told AAP.
“So this is really an important win, not just for cancer patients, but for anyone in the country who is trying to access specialist services for their health.”
Margaret Dalmau, manager of cancer accommodation Lilier Lodge in Wagga Wagga, said the increased discounts reflected the real cost of staying away from home.
“It means patients now have money to put food on the table and pay their bills,” Ms Dalmau said.
“They can focus on their treatment and their recovery, rather than all the extraneous things going on around them.”