Health & Wellbeing

George gets helping hand with health travel costs, you can too

Michael Weaver 6 September 2019

George, from near Bega, is one of the many Monaro residents to access the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme. Photo: NSW Government

George lives near Bega with his partner Linda and their obsessive kelpie named Griffin. He is one of 31,000 rural and regional patients who travel long distances to access medical treatment.

After being diagnosed with a bacteria disease and cancer in 2017, George needed treatment in Sydney.

A helping hand from the NSW Government’s Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAS) has relieved some of the burden.

The $25.9 million scheme provides financial assistance towards travel and accommodation costs when a patient needs to travel long distances for treatment that is not available locally.

George spent three months in hospital, including 10 days in intensive care as doctors tried to halt the bacteria. George was then diagnosed with a stage four cancer in his colon.

“Most of the sophisticated treatment facilities are in the big cities, with Sydney being my nearest place for treatment,” George says.

“I’m a seven-and-a-half hour drive or an all-day train trip from Sydney and I can’t sit for long periods because of the cancer I’ve got, so I have to travel by air. A one-way airfare from Bega (Merimbula) to Sydney is about $400.

“Getting cancer and having the treatment is very stressful, but just knowing that you’re not paying all of the out-of-pocket expenses is a huge relief.”

Member for Monaro John Barilaro says the health and wellbeing of people like George is a priority.

“Investment in the IPTAAS scheme has more than doubled in the last eight years from $12.2 million in 2011–12 to $25.9 million in 2018–19,” he says.

“When you live in regional areas the tyranny of distance can present many unexpected challenges, including affordable access to essential specialist medical services.

“With many parts of the state currently struggling with the drought, it makes a significant difference to patients,” Mr Barilaro says.

Since its introduction, changes have been made to the scheme to make it easier for people to access. These include removing co-payments, subsidising air travel booking fee costs and launching a new claims system.

“By reducing travel costs, the NSW Government’s scheme helps remove a key hurdle to seeking specialist medical treatment when it’s needed,” Mr Barilaro says.

More information can be found online via the IPTAS website.

What's Your Opinion?

12 Responses to George gets helping hand with health travel costs, you can too

colin smith 6:12 pm 07 Sep 19

Have used it over the last 12 months and certainly appreciate it.Much easier to do online now once you get the hang of it.

Peter Bond 5:01 pm 07 Sep 19

There is a light at the far end if the a few years there will be self driving cars and the trip will be easier.
Shouldn’t be too dear, there are conversions kits available for $2000 on the net.

Jan Southcott Jan Southcott 8:49 am 07 Sep 19

IPTAAS is a fantastic scheme, don’t know how we would have managed without the assistance both travelling to Melbourne for treatment & now to Nowra for 8 weeks of radiation.

Isabel Robinson Isabel Robinson 8:40 am 07 Sep 19

How good would be if the new local hospitals had the funding to serve the health issues of regional / rural people. Funding to train more specialists should go hand in hand with that. When stroke patients, for example, have to travel to the ACT or other cities for assistance, placing immense strain on the patients and their families, you know something is amiss with the system.

Christine Smith Christine Smith 10:26 pm 06 Sep 19

It was a lifesaver for us. Cancer center Nowra were fantastic it guiding you through the paperwork and getting them signed.

Mara Roberts Mara Roberts 8:51 pm 06 Sep 19

Right. We tried to apply and gave up when my partner had surgery in Canberra for cancer. It was too hard to get the surgeon to sign.

Nilena Falvey Nilena Falvey 6:48 pm 06 Sep 19

Iotas is a great help to families, it actually covered everything we spent on travel

Linda Hayward Linda Hayward 3:44 pm 06 Sep 19

That's all good if the Dr's sign the paperwork

Za's Mobile Coffee Za's Mobile Coffee 3:01 pm 06 Sep 19

I use it for cancer treatment at peter mac in melbourne. Great scheme

Karen Beck Karen Beck 2:34 pm 06 Sep 19

I have used it as well its fortunate that it is available

Leonie Johnston Leonie Johnston 2:10 pm 06 Sep 19

A very good Iptas helps a lot

Sue Hoogenbosch Sue Hoogenbosch 12:47 pm 06 Sep 19

Yes, my carer and I utilized IPTAAS funded flights yesterday to go up and back in the day to see a specialist in Sydney. It's too hard to travel otherwise. Grateful the specialists office were flexible with appointment to suit flight times.