More than 4500 new patients have taken advantage of increased financial assistance available to people in regional communities who need to travel long distances to receive specialist care.
Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders said over 1000 new patients from the Western and Far West Local Health Districts have lodged claims under the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) since the NSW Government’s $149.5 million funding boost came into effect.
“It is fantastic that we’re able to help reduce the financial burden for regional patients and their families who have to travel for treatment,” Mr Saunders said.
“The NSW Government has not only increased subsidies for travel and accommodation, but there are now tens of thousands more people eligible for the scheme.”
The subsidy for people requiring accommodation has been almost doubled, while the NSW Government has also raised the private vehicle subsidy rate from 22 cents to 40 cents per kilometre for patients who have to travel more than 100 kilometres for care.
Additional patients are eligible, including those attending non-commercial clinical trials, high risk foot clinics, highly-specialised publicly funded dental health clinics and ocularists.
Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the changes are making an enormous difference for people living in regional and rural communities.
“We know there were people in our regional and rural communities who were not seeking the care they needed because of the high cost of travel and accommodation,” Mrs Taylor said.
“With the increased subsidies now available, many of these people are now receiving life-changing treatment.
“This crucial program is helping to ensure that no matter where you live in NSW, you can access the healthcare you need.”
Community-based charity Can Assist provides financial support to cancer patients living in rural and regional areas to help access treatment and care.
“I can’t put into words the weight I see lifted when patients and our volunteers realise what the increase in IPTAAS rebates means for them,” Executive Director Emma Phillips said.
The NSW Government is continuing to review and streamline the IPTAAS application processes to make it easier for patients to lodge claims.