Dog’s life for thousands of country patients left out in cold by cancer budget

Media Release -15 June 2010

Thousands of cancer patients who travel long distances to treatment have no relief in sight after last week’s NSW budget offered no improvements to patient and accommodation assistance.

Anita Tang, Manager of Policy and Advocacy at Cancer Council NSW said patients living in many regional areas had no choice other than to drive long distances, or live away from home during their treatment.

“Under the current Isolated Patient and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS), patients are reimbursed with just $33 for a single room,” she said.

“In Sydney, that is around the cost of a campsite or kennelling for your pet. Even budget hotels cost more than $100 per night in the city, and patients often need to live away from home for weeks during treatment.

“Those who drive can expect a measly 15 cents per kilometre – an amount fitting of the 1970s, not today when fuel in most country towns costs about $1.30 per litre.

“On top of that, the process of applying for assistance is complex, the paperwork is baffling, and patients can expect to wait several months for reimbursements – at a time when many are already on reduced incomes from lost work.”

Ms Tang said Cancer Council NSW last week released a report, Saving Life; why wouldn’t you?* which provides solutions for fixing transport and accommodation issues to reduce the financial and physical stress suffered by patients and carers.

“We need the NSW Government to fix gaps in transport and accommodation, while increasing IPTAAS reimbursements to a fair amount for country patients,” she said.

“People who have to leave their homes for treatment far away already face a lonely and hard road. Politicians have the power to ease the unnecessary burdens of cancer. Our question is: why wouldn’t you?”

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Media contact:

Catherine Stace, 0419 290 412

Notes to editors

The report Saving Life: why wouldn’t you? urges the NSW Government to:

  • Introduce compulsory licensing for anyone selling tobacco
  • Ban smoking in all outdoor dining areas where food is served
  • Improve financial aid and support for patients travelling to treatment and living away from home
  • Boost radiotherapy services
  • Improve guidelines and systems to ensure patients receive good quality care