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"PTSD and cuts to treatment via Better Access. Gympie"

About: Queensland

(as the patient),

I am experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This has had a terrible impact on my life. I think my psychologist is a god send and has saved my life. The Better Access Initiative has allowed me treatment.

The visits to the Psychologist are scheduled at $200 per hour but my particular psychologist charges only $100.00 per visit and I am required to pay approx $20.00 out of this amount and the rest is paid by Medicare. We live in a rural area and our current Mental health and Disability services are stretched to the max. I have been told that I can go to a Psychiatrist who monitors medicine and then refers me to a psychologist but the unfortunate facts are we have one psychiatrist who attends our area and visits fortnightly. He will not be visiting for another 5 weeks. The waiting list is 2-3 months and the out of pocket cost to me would be 2 to 5 times plus what I can get from my current health care provider. I am very grateful to the Better Access Initiative and to the Medicare system for their assistance for without it I would not have received the beneficial results that I am experiencing.

Due to the severity of my illness I have been eligible for up to 18 visits per year and then having to pay for any additional treatment out of my Disability Payment. This is an incredible increase to any budget let alone someone who has minimum income.

Over the last three years my health is steadily improving due to the professional care I have been able to access under this scheme. If I cannot obtain the timely treatment that I need, I am at great risk of an increase in symptoms and decline in my progress.

PTSD and many other mental health concerns and illnesses can also be a death sentence if left untreated. I believe this decision to decrease visits to our chosen professional could result in many vulnerable citizens taking their life. The Better Access program allows all Australians to access professional psychological care.

People like me need all the help they can get so that they will be able to get well and get back into the work force. I do not need to have my needs pushed under a carpet and forgotten or treated any less than the next human being.

I am trying every thing that I can to regain my health but this arbitrary decision is seriously impeding my progress and well being. Given professional care with a carer of my choice my prognosis is recovery in 5-7 years maximum. I am recovering much faster due to my monumental efforts. I have had a big struggle to accept this condition and the impacts that it has had on my life e.g. not being able to earn a living, not being able to parent my children on a daily basis and having to deal with the issues that have arisen as a result of the traumas.

I am not a victim and do not act like one. I am a brave and proactive woman who desperately needs the support of my Government representatives to assist me whilst I am most vulnerable. I am looking for a hand up, not a hand out.

Until such times as the new system (ATAPS) etc proves itself to be as effective as the Better Access program I ask that the Better Access remains in place in its initial capacity. Reinstate the 18 visits per year; in fact, evidence proves that up to 26 visits per year are advisable.

It would appear that I can have up to 50 visits to a Psychiatrist per annum, not my chosen method. My point is if the Government allows me to have 50 visits to a service that may not help and is far more expensive, both to the consumer and Medicare, then why can’t I have the equivalent Dollar value to choose who is most successful in treating me and aiding my recovery?

The argument provided by the current government that the Better Access is costing more than expected proves that there is a genuine need in our community and a need for this proven successful model to continue.

The proposal of allowing 10 visits to a professional and then another 10 group sessions is an insult to me and my right to choose the care I need. I have absolutely no desire to share my very personal and painful story in a group or over the internet. Our local ATAP centre has a cut off of 8 visits and no assurances that I will have continuity of care with the same Psychologist, counsellor.

I believe this decision will have a devastating kickback on all our communities.

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