The NSW Government will help regional and rural patients impacted by bushfires with their travel and accommodation costs when attending specialist medical treatments.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government is looking at ways to support bushfire-affected communities with practical solutions to make life a little easier during an incredibly tough time.
“People in bushfire-affected areas have enough to worry about at the moment without the additional stress of finding extra money to travel long distances to see a specialist.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the criteria for the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) will be broadened so patients impacted by bushfires can access the subsidy to help cover out-of-pocket costs.
“Some patients in regional and rural areas will have to travel a longer route or extend their stay due to road closures or poor weather conditions, so this scheme will help ease some of the financial pressure,” Mr Hazzard said.
The IPTAAS provides subsidies for transport and accommodation expenses incurred when travelling at least 100km, or a cumulative distance of at least 200km in a week for specialist medical treatment.
Cancer Council NSW’s Director of Information and Support Services Annie Miller said the scheme would assist cancer patients unable to return home between treatments.
“This will make a significant difference to patients and their families having regular cancer treatments who haven’t been able to return home due to road closures or poor air quality and have been forced to spend more on accommodation and travel,” Ms Miller said.
Patients are encouraged to include additional information such as extenuating circumstances and tax invoices within their applications. Anyone experiencing financial hardship should contact IPTAAS to discuss payment options.
Investment in IPTAAS has more than doubled over the past seven years, from $12.2 million in 2011-12 to $25.9 million in 2018-19, helping more than 30,000 patients.