System is sick

A year ago Anthony and Sally Fox were your average Hills couple with two young children.

Life was full of home and work and school and sport.

They had no idea how the State’s health system ran and figured that if they lived a healthy life, paid their taxes and took out private health cover then they would able to take care of themselves.

That ideal was shattered on September 21 last year when Anthony suffered a major stroke. He nearly died and the family was warned at one stage that if he ever woke up, the chances were slim that he would know them.

He did wake up, he did recognise his family and while he has many physical and mental hurdles to overcome, the progress he has made to date is a testament to the skill of the medical professionals who worked on him and his own determination to improve.

It is that fighting spirit that has also sustained him through his latest battle – to go home.

Anthony was told earlier this year that he would be ready to be discharged from the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre and into the care programs run through Disabilities SA by late February.

That date was extended to March and then, after a third knock back before Easter, the family was facing a month’s wait for another request to be heard.

Depressed and desperate to be home, Anthony wrote down his story and sent it out to media outlets and politicians.

He couldn’t understand why the State Government was quite happy to pay up to $1000 a day to keep him at Hampstead but couldn’t find the money from a different department to send him home with just 16 hours of support a week.

If the taxpayer was footing the bill, why did it matter which department was paying, he argued.

The public agreed with him and the Minister for Disabilities Services, Tony Piccolo, had to agree as well, promising to review the case.

Anthony is now going home and his bed will be opened up for someone else in desperate need of rehabilitation.

However, Anthony is only one of many who are struggling to get care funding from a cash-strapped department for disability services.

This State has a health department with a ballooning budget that cannot seem to meet any savings targets and yet we continue to have a system that keeps people in high cost care because low cost care is inadequately funded.

The taxpayer has a right to question why its money is not being used in the most efficient and effective manner.