Free GP visits for terminally-ill patients: Breast Cancer Foundation NZ petition
Breast Cancer Foundation NZ has handed a petition to MP Maggie Barry requesting free GP visits for Kiwis with advanced breast cancer (ABC).
Breast Cancer Foundation NZ chair Justine Smyth and chief executive Evangelia Henderson presented the petition along with the chief executive of Sweet Louise, Philippa Reed, and two Kiwis who are living with ABC – a terminal disease.
Mrs Henderson said people with ABC have symptoms that need constant attention, so trips to the doctor are a regular necessity.
“Hearing about the financial hardship these patients face every day was very moving,” said Mrs Henderson.
“One of the women, Cheryl, often must choose between a doctor’s visit to help manage her symptoms, and putting food on the table for herself and her daughter.
“In a country like New Zealand, no-one should be confronted with such a heart-breaking decision,” said Mrs Henderson. “That’s why all New Zealanders with ABC should have automatic access to free GP visits.”
The petition, signed by more than 3,100 people, will be tabled in Parliament in March.
Breast Cancer Foundation NZ’s landmark report “I’m still here”, Insights into living – and dying – with Advanced Breast Cancer in New Zealand, released in September 2018, revealed a sorry state of play for Kiwis with advanced breast cancer.
- Median survival for New Zealanders with ABC – a terminal disease – is just 16 months, compared with two to three years, or longer, in comparable countries.
- Patients struggle to manage their symptoms, reducing their quality of life and potentially shortening their survival. Sadly, because there is no hope of cure, they are often pushed to the back of the queue when resources are stretched.
- People with ABC and their families face a huge financial burden, which is with them for the rest of their lives. Three-quarters of people with ABC have had a decline in household finances; nearly half say their situation is “a lot worse”.
- The cost of GP visits becomes a major financial burden when patients no longer have regular hospital appointments; inability to afford appointments means patients don’t get the symptom relief they need.