For 58-year-old Peter Needham, who lives with multiple sclerosis and only has movement in his right arm, seeing his friends and family is the highlight of his day.

Key points:

  • Peter Needham has multiple sclerosis and can’t access the care he needs close to family and friends
  • He’s currently in a regional hospital more than an hour away
  • Friends argue more beds and services need to be available for older Australians

After recovering from another illness that almost took his life, his family and friends say visiting him has been made that much harder after he was moved to a regional hospital, more than an hour away.

Close friends of Mr Needham said he was in Bunbury Hospital before he was moved to Bridgetown Hospital with two hours’ notice.

No care close to family and friends

A man in a wheelchair surrounded by a large group of people at an outdoor table.

Mr Needham and his former school friends have always maintained a close bond.(

Supplied: Mick Caddy


Mr Caddy said the Needham family were told there were not enough beds for him to stay at Bunbury Hospital and no local nursing homes could fit him in.

“His mother is 87 years old this year and how can you expect an 87-year-old to drive to Bridgetown. She can’t drive anymore,” Mr Caddy said.

Mr Needham recently recovered after a four-week stint in palliative care.

Mr Caddy said he was concerned his friend was in a vulnerable state.

“Surely there’s someone within 50 kilometres that can look after Peter, that’s all we want.”

NDIS patient in limbo

Mr Needham was receiving care under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) until he was told he needed a higher level of care.

The NDIS has come under fire previously for delays on getting patients out of hospitals and onto a care plan.

A spokeswoman from the WA Country Health Service, which manages regional hospitals and patients, said it would always help NDIS patients who come into hospitals.

“We do not turn them away despite the fact they may not require hospital care,” the spokeswoman said.

Bunbury Hospital emergency department in south-west WA.

Mr Needham was at Bunbury Hospital before he was moved to Bridgetown Hospital to free up beds for emergency patients.(

ABC News: Gian De Poloni


The service said it was working with Mr Needham to find him the appropriate care he needs, but said if that failed it would try to find him a hospital bed closer to home.

More options needed

Mr Needham’s mother and close friends have been told he could be moved to a bed in Busselton, which is half an hour closer than Bridgetown.

Mr Caddy said there needed to be more options for vulnerable Australians.

“I think we need more beds everywhere not just Bunbury,” he said.

A man laying in a hospital bed using binoculars and looking surprised.

Mr Caddy said despite everything, Mr Needham is always up for a laugh with his friends and family, like the time he joked about how small his hospital TV was and pretended to watch it through binoculars.(

Supplied: Mick Caddy


A spokesperson for the National Disability Insurance Agency, which delivers the scheme, said it would continue to work with Mr Needham to get him the disability support he needs.

“It is important to note that NDIS participants may enter hospital for treatment of health conditions,” the spokesperson said.

“The NDIS was never intended to replace other mainstream government services, such as housing and the health system.”

Peter’s friends are worried he could die alone in a hospital bed an hour away from his family
Source 1


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