Claims many patients who used to get subsidy being rejected

THE ALP claims patients who have previously had their travel for medical purposes subsidised are being rejected.

They also say patients are being forced to travel by train from Rockhampton to Brisbane, which is a day of traveling, and are forced to stay in expensive accommodation.

Patients who must travel long distances to get the specialist care they require are the latest victims of the Newman Government's cuts to frontline services and broken promises, says Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne.

"The Health Minister continues to claim everything is rosy in our health system while hiding behind regional Hospital and Health Boards like the Central Queensland HHS that are making decisions that hit hard at sick Queenslanders," Mr Byrne said.

Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne.
Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne.

"Examples of genuine hardship and distress are now emerging as patients tell me of harsh new cost-cutting at Rockhampton Hospital and throughout Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

"Terribly ill people are being driven to despair by the Newman Government's insistence that they travel to Brisbane or elsewhere by train because it is allegedly cheaper than flying or driving.

"But patients say that the change means they are forced to spend extra time away from home, forced to stay in expensive accommodation and, in some cases, forced to endure additional pain and discomfort on long train journeys."

Mr Byrne said that under the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme, patients who fly for medical appointments have the full cost of their travel met by their local Hospital and Health Service.

"This is a long-standing arrangement, but now we are seeing funding applications being rejected for patients who have previously been authorised to fly to see specialists or for care not available locally.

"Those who have come to me for assistance have a genuine need to use air travel rather than the train, which we all know takes virtually all day to get from Rockhampton to Brisbane.

"Some are afraid they won't be able to physically endure the journey, others can show that the change will cause them a financial burden they are in no position to bear.

Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller.
Labor MP Jo-Ann Miller. File

Shadow Health Minister Jo-Ann Miller, said Lawrence Springborg bore the ultimate responsibility for the emerging funding crisis.

"If the board doesn't have the money to continue to fly patients for vital treatment, it is because of the funding cuts he has imposed on them. The first LNP State Budget in 2012 detailed $3 billion worth of cuts over four years," she said.

Mr Byrne said the local health trust had cut into patient care last year so it could declare a profit, some of which was used to pay for a helicopter pad at Rockhampton Hospital.

"I said at the time that it was a disgrace that the trust was expected to pay for essential capital investments. The helicopter pad is something that should have been funded directly by Queensland Health," he said.

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