Cancer Council NSW addresses inequity in cancer care for remote, regional and rural NSW

Cancer Council NSW

On Friday the 31st of May 2024, Cancer Council NSW attended a Parliamentary inquiry to discuss inequities in rural, regional and remote health care services when compared to metropolitan areas in NSW. This was a follow up from a previous Regional and Rural inquiry in 2021, with new information from previous advocacy work around the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodations Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) in 2022 and Bulk-billing in Wagga Wagga in 2023 included. This showed a bigger issue involving unequal access to cancer treatment for people who live in rural, regional and remote areas of NSW.

What has changed?

Since the previous Parliamentary inquiry in 2021, some progress has been made. First, there were changes made to the IPTAAS which will allow people undergoing cancer treatment to pay less on their travel and overnight accommodations. There has also been the removal of out-of-pocket costs for public cancer patients in Wagga Wagga and the continued work to integrate existing cancer services into virtual care.

While these changes are a step in the right direction, more work must be done to improve equity for people with cancer living in these areas.

What we advocated for:

Poor cancer outcomes for those in remote, regional and rural NSW can be largely attributed to poorer access to high-quality cancer care, clinical trials, diagnostic services, supportive and palliative care.

Cancer Council NSW raised several issues at the Parliamentary inquiry to help address these outcomes, including:

  • Advocating for equitable community transport pricing through benchmarking and reviewing existing policies and grant programs.
  • Urging the NSW Government to assess and address any additional costs for public patients in other regional cancer centres.
  • Highlighting the importance of integrating support services into existing healthcare networks.
  • Increasing palliative care access across NSW.

Cancer Council NSW recently announced a new research centre focused on improving the care and wellbeing of cancer survivors as part of a new 10-year partnership with UNSW Sydney. The Australian Research Centre for Cancer Survivorship will work to ensure better support and care, and improved quality of life for cancer survivors in NSW, specifically for people living in remote, regional and rural communities.

With an estimated 1.52 million cancer diagnoses and half a million cancer-related deaths projected in NSW over the next two decades, rethinking our health system’s approach to prevention and management is imperative.

/Public Release. View in full here.