Cancer Council NSW welcomes release of NSW Parliament’s report into regional access to healthcare
By Cancer Council NSW
Cancer Council NSW welcomes today’s release of the report from the NSW Parliamentary inquiry into health outcomes and access to healthcare and hospital services in rural, regional, and remote NSW.
The charity’s Policy and Advocacy Manager, Bradley Gellert says the report is comprehensive, thorough and based on extensive evidence from health experts and the experiences of people in regional NSW.
The report brings to light the experience of people living in regional and remote communities and the barriers in accessing care, the financial hardships they face, and the emotional toll on them and their families.”
“We know that people with cancer living outside metropolitan areas have poorer outcomes compared to people in cities. The recommendations will help to ensure everyone in NSW has the same opportunities to access the care they need, when they need it,” Mr Gellert continues.
Cancer Council NSW particularly supports the recommendations to:
Lift Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) subsidy rates and increase the number of people who are eligible for the scheme
Investigate and find ways to reduce the out-of-pocket costs for people accessing cancer care in regional NSW, including people attending public-private facilities
Improve the coordination and continuity of care
Improve the provision of end of life and palliative care service in regional NSW
In light of the report’s release, Cancer Council NSW is calling on the NSW Government to close the gap in cancer outcomes between people in regional and metropolitan NSW by urgently implementing these recommendations.
“We welcome the recent announcements by the NSW Government of the NSW Cancer Plan 2022-27 and new ministerial portfolio for regional health; both committing to addressing these persistent inequalities in access to health services and outcomes. We have the road maps and plans; it’s now time for action.
“The community has been telling us ensuring fairness and equity in health is their number one concern,” Mr Gellert says.
A recent Cancer Council NSW survey found that more than 90% of people believe the NSW government needs to act now and increase financial subsidies to improve access to cancer care for people in regional NSW.
“Tackling out-of-pocket costs is incredibly important given that conservative estimates put the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis on the household at $43,000. IPTAAS is essential for people in regional NSW to access care. However, IPTAAS subsidy rates for private travel by car haven’t increased since 2015. In that time, accommodation costs have continued to rise and fuel prices have increased for many by more than 50%.
“People tell us they’re skipping care because they can’t afford all the costs of accessing treatment including travel and accommodation. This is not acceptable – we can and should do better. The NSW Government can fix this by urgently increasing IPTAAS subsidies so people are not forced to make impossible choices between cancer treatment or paying their bills,” Mr Gellert concludes.