The challenges of regional specialist health care

Seeking specialist health care in regional centres can be challenging at the best of times, let alone for someone rehabilitating from a catastrophic injury.

While patients located in metropolitan zones have greater access to bespoke support services, others in more remote areas are sometimes forced to travel great distances to receive the necessary treatment. 

Treatment should be equal

For those unable to travel regularly it’s especially important the patient and their family have the ability to select their care providers locally.

Maurice Blackburn Serious Injury Team Principal Rene Flores said it’s critical that patients obtain the best possible rehabilitation regardless of where they are based.

“We’ve established some really good relationships with local care providers - particularly occupational therapists and speech pathologists - so that our clients aren’t having to rely on people that the insurance company are sending up from Brisbane.”

“Unfortunately sometimes it’s more cost efficient for insurers to appoint someone cheaper, as opposed to allocating someone who the client has developed a rapport with and trusts.”

“We obviously want clients to obtain the best possible support services so they can have the best chance of recovery and rehabilitation.”

Funding is critical

With some Queensland patients needing to travel more than 900km for rehabilitation, there can be serious long-term financial ramifications that cause other challenges, particularly with the injured parties being off-work.

“It’s no doubt very stressful for clients and their families - physically and financially - having to travel great distances to receive treatment,” Rene said.

“Flights can be expensive or it can be a very long car ride for clients making their way to a major trauma centre for their specialist care.”

“In circumstances where treatment is not available in a region, we have had the other party cover costs and accommodation for treatment of the client.”

Additional government funding would ensure regions like Townsville and North Queensland are more equipped with resources, reducing the need for clients to travel great distances to Brisbane.

The Serious Injuries team in Queensland supports more than 130 clients including people suffering ABI and spinal cord injuries.

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Rene Flores

Maurice Blackburn Townsville

Rene Flores is a Principal Lawyer and the Regional Office Leader for Maurice Blackburn’s legal practice in Townsville. He has more than 10 years’ experience as a lawyer practising in regional Queensland and is a member of the Serious Injury Team (QLD).

In 2007, Rene graduated from James C…

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