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.
- 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
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.
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 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.”