RED TAPE RUNAROUND: Sick people caught in bureaucratic madness
SICK people, some with cancer who need a daily treatment to help fight their disease, feel they are being left out in the cold by a ludicrous red tape issue is holding back funding.
Agnes Water and Rosedale patients have been told they are not entitled to Queensland Health's Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme as Bundaberg is their closest hospital, but Childers and Gin Gin residents are allowed to access the funds because they pass their local hospital to get treatment in the Rum City.
PTSS provides financial assistance for patients who are referred to specialist medical services not available at their local public hospital or health facility.
Patients approved for PTSS will receive a subsidy to attend the closest public hospital or health facility where the specialist medical treatment is available.
A reliable source has spoken to the NewsMail with a desperate plea to have the PTSS changed to allow people who live further afield use it, even if it's the closest hospital.
The source said patients who travel to Bundy for any specialist outpatients clinics or treatment from Agnes Water or Rosedale way don't receive any assistance from the PTSS, but patients from a closer area, Childers and Gin Gin, do.
Childers and Gin Gin patients live about 50km, while Agnes Water patients live about 120km, from the Bundy hospital.
This is because the closest hospital to Agnes Water is classed as Bundaberg Hospital, unless they travel an unsealed road, Diamond Hill Rd, passing Gin Gin Hospital to get here.
"If they use sealed road then Bundaberg Hospital is closest," the source said.
Patients from Gin Gin and Childers pass their local hospital so are entitled to the scheme.
While this only impacts a handful of people, it's coming down to who is doing the administration for the PTSS as to who gets the funding.
Not being able to access the funding makes it difficult for some patients and they are struggling with the cost to have life saving medical treatment.
A Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services spokeswoman said it administered the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme in accordance with the policy set down by the Queensland Government, which aimed to support people who need to travel long distances for medical care.
"We are currently reviewing the interpretation of the policy - particularly as it applies to people living in the Rosedale and Discovery Coast areas - due to feedback from the community," the spokeswoman said.
"The review centres around the way the distance is calculated to Bundaberg and Gin Gin hospitals.
"WBHHS will provide further details once the review is complete. In the meantime, we are happy to discuss specific concerns."
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said her organisation had been advocating on this issue for many years to ensure regional Queenslanders had access to relevant support services.
Ms McMillian said the PTSS program was under review.
"Updating the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme is key to addressing cancer survival and ensuring equity for all Queenslanders affected by cancer," Ms McMillian said.
"At least 350 regional Queenslanders die from cancer each year simply because they live outside a metropolitan area - it's our vision to see that gap closed."
"If Queenslanders need support, we encourage them to phone us on 13 11 20."