What the NSW Government’s IPTAAS announcement means for regional and rural cancer patients
By Cancer Council NSW
The NSW Government announced $149.5m to improve the Isolated Patient and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) – scheme that provides financial support for people in regional NSW who need to travel to get healthcare.
This is a major win for people affected by cancer in regional and rural communities and is something Cancer Council NSW has long advocated for – it means cancer patients who need to travel from their homes in regional NSW to hospitals or treatment centres will be less out of pocket by thousands of dollars.
Cancer patients in regional NSW often face huge out of pocket costs just to travel to treatment
While IPTAAS was set up by the NSW Government to help people in regional areas who need to travel long distances for treatment, the scheme has been letting people with cancer down.
Until this announcement was made, IPTAAS had provided people with cancer as little as $43 a night for accommodation and 22cents/km for travel – less than what a politician could claim for travel.
Some people, including those who need to access potentially lifesaving clinical travel, were denied access altogether.
The changes announced will significantly increase the rate of travel and accommodation subsidies available
The level of financial assistance is almost doubling. The fuel rebate will lift from 22 cents/km to 40 cents/km. The accommodation subsidy will go from $43/night to $75/night and up to $120/night for stays over seven nights. And for the first time, people undertaking ground-breaking clinical trials will have access to these subsidies.
These are major improvements that we have long been asking the Government to make.
Everyone should be able to access quality cancer care and support, no matter where you live
According to Cancer Council NSW research, 1 in 5 people affected by cancer in regional NSW skip appointments because of cost. This change is an important step toward reducing the costs faced by people affected by cancer in regional communities.
It will likely mean less emotional distress for people with cancer and their loved ones, and it will make access to cancer care fairer for people in regional NSW.
These changes have been years in the making
It all started with our communities. Using research and stories, we have advocated to the Government and mobilised our communities and supporters. Nearly 200 supporters wrote to their Members of Parliament – and some volunteers also met with their Members of Parliament.
The stories of people who faced financial hardship because they couldn’t afford treatment or were not able to access ground-breaking clinical trials that could save their lives, were shared and moved people to support our advocacy.
We will continue to advocate for change
We are still advocating for further improvements to the scheme to make the application process easier, change the restrictive distance criteria for assistance that still excludes people in need, and improve awareness of the scheme among health care providers.
As we head to the NSW election in March 2023, we will be raising the urgent need to improve cancer care and support and reduce cancer deaths. We’ll also be asking the NSW Government, Members of Parliament and candidates for their commitment to do more for people affected by cancer. We will need your help because we have seen what is possible when a community comes together.