Today’s post is by Dr Linda Samera of the NSW North Coast. A severe case of Sjogren’s Syndrome means Dr Samera has to travel to Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney every month for treatment.
The closure of the cheap and wheelchair-friendly accommodation where she used to stay has prompted Dr Samera to start a petition on GetUp. She wants to put pressure on the state government to provide country patients with affordable accommodation when they have to come to the city for treatment.
For years, she and her husband Rod stayed at Blue Gum Lodge in Sydney – ‘for country people only’. But the Lodge has closed, leaving the Sameras with nowhere to stay. Here is Linda’s story.
I have an autoimmune disease that requires me to travel more than 500km to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital every month where I spend one week receiving medical treatment.
Dr Linda Samera – ready to travel.
Up until now, my husband and I stayed at Blue Gum Lodge, which was wheelchair-friendly, close to the hospital and allowed us to cook our own healthy and affordable meals. But Blue Gum Lodge closed on 31 January 2014. Sadly, it’s not the first time this has happened. Prince of Wales Hospital and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital have also closed their country patient accommodation in the past few years. One by one, major hospitals in NSW are closing their essential accommodation for country patients.
NSW regional and rural patients suffering from serious illnesses, like me, are often forced to spend days or months living away from home in order to receive the life-saving treatment we need. It is imperative that all major hospitals in NSW have affordable and accessible on-site or nearby patient accommodation for people travelling from the country to receive medical care.
Will you join me in calling on NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner to provide affordable and accessible hospital accommodation for country patients?
In my career as a remote area general practitioner I’ve seen patients turn down treatment because they couldn’t afford accommodation in the city. I’ve also seen families financially destroyed by huge bills resulting from long stays in the city for life-saving treatment.
All of us living in the country are vulnerable because many treatments for diseases and injuries are only available at city hospitals. The NSW government needs to make health care fair and equitable by providing affordable and accessible accommodation near to every major hospital.
The divide between the health of rural and city Australians has been well documented. But there shouldn’t be any second-class citizens when it comes to health care in NSW and no patient should have to put up with second-rate health care because they live outside a major city.
Providing accommodation that is affordable and accessible is the first step to closing that gap. Will you join me in asking NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner to provide affordable and accessible hospital accommodation for country patients? Click here to sign and share the petition. Thanks for taking action.
Previously on Nurse Uncut: Last year nurses gathered at the National Party Conference in Bathurst to raise awareness of the need for more nurses in rural areas. Watch a short video where nurses meet their MPs to press home the argument that country people deserve the same level of care as people in the cities.
Still in Bathurst: this rural community protested against local cuts to nursing staff in December 2013. Watch a video of the community forum and nurses’ strike.