Patients across the Dubbo electorate are set to benefit from an expansion of the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS), with the NSW Government investing an additional $149.5 million as part of the 2022-23 NSW Budget.
Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders welcomed the funding boost which will see more people eligible for subsidised travel and accommodation if they need to leave their communities to receive specialist care.
“We understand travel and accommodation can be expensive and we’re committed to doing what we can to ease the financial pressure on patients,” Mr Saunders said.
“The devastating reality is that many people simply don’t seek treatment to avoid the financial burden on their family. That’s unacceptable.
“There are a large number of people across western NSW, who previously have been unable to receive help under this scheme, will now be eligible.”
For the first time, the scheme will be expanded so patients seeking non-commercial clinical trials, high risk foot clinics, highly specialised publicly funded dental health clinics and ocularists will be eligible for assistance.
The subsidy for people requiring accommodation will be almost doubled, while the NSW Government will also nearly double 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.
Managing director of Macquarie Homestay Rod Crowfoot has welcomed the increase, and says regional, rural and remote patients will welcome it too.
“IPTAAS is a lifeline for so many, but it’s been 7 years since the last review and the cost of accessing specialist health care has increased so much over this time,” Mr Crowfoot said.
“There are patients we have spoken to who have said that unless they have access to these support structures, they would discontinue treatment as they just could not afford all of the associated costs with travel and accommodation costs.
“The increases will be so truly welcomed by the people of rural NSW. We congratulate the NSW Government on these critical announcements today.”
Since 2019, John Jasperson has travelled from Lightning Ridge to Dubbo every three weeks for life-saving cancer treatment, staying at Macquarie Homestay 47 times.
“I can tell you without them, I wouldn’t be here today,” Mr Jasperson said.
“A 650 kilometre round trip every three weeks, it’s been really hard and when I heard the government was going to help us with some extra money, I couldn’t get over it.
“It will help me as a pensioner so much, but it’s really important for all sick people. All us people who live away and have to travel would be lost without the support we get from IPTAAS and the people at Homestay.”
Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the announcement will see a huge weight lifted off so many patients who were previously unable to receive help.
“We know that when you have to travel for healthcare, the costs can quickly add up, and this can be a huge financial burden on patients and their families,” Mrs Taylor said.
“If we as Government can do one thing to support people and their families during a time of great emotional and financial distress, this is it.”
This funding will see the NSW Government’s overall investment in IPTAAS tripled over the next four years.
About 1650 people across the Dubbo electorate were supported last year under the IPTAAS scheme.
The $149.5 million investment is part of the NSW Government’s $4.5 billion record commitment to the NSW Health workforce with 10,148 full time equivalent staff to be recruited over four years.