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‘Shaming’ Queensland Health only way to be given travel exemption, says father of cancer patient

Exposing the cruelty of Queensland Health’s travel exemption process in the media has become the only way to get home for critical care, says the father of a woman with cancer trapped in Canberra.

Maryanne Bedwell’s desperate plea to return home to Brisbane to access life-extending treatment for a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma had been ignored.

The woman submitted an exemption on September 6, containing documentation from hospital staff of the seriousness of her condition and urgency of the treatment required, which is only available at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

But until her story was shared on Channel 7’s news bulletin on Tuesday evening, the family had heard nothing.

Her dad, Bruce Bedwell, told 4BC his daughter was called by health authorities 31 minutes after her predicament was aired on commercial television.

“The only way for some people, Maryanne included, to get any progress is to really, just simply, shame the Queensland Health department into responding,” he said.

QLD
Camera IconHealth authorities have been heavily criticised for its approach to travel exemptions. NCA NewsWire/Tertius Pickard Credit: News Corp Australia

“For me, that’s been the most painful thing to watch.

“It shows to me there’s a fundamental problem in the system that can’t distinguish grades of urgency.”

The latest story to expose the long delays and curious process of the state’s exemption department comes after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk admitted the team needed to “do better”.

Authorities were widely condemned for initially failing to provide an exemption for Memphis Francis, a three-year old boy who was trapped on a cattle station in NSW for two months without his parents.

Since then, the heartbreaking stories have rolled in, including 10-year-old Nate, who was trapped in Sydney for more than two months despite his mother’s efforts to get him home to the Gold Coast.

Memphis Francis
Camera IconThree-year-old Memphis Francis was reunited with his mother Dominique Facer at Archerfield airport. NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled Credit: News Corp Australia

Then there was seriously ill four-month old, Rocka, whose parents initially had their request to quarantine with their baby at their rural property in Queensland rejected because of travel issues.

All cases were eventually given an exemption but only after media reports infuriated the public, with Ms Palaszczuk admitting the case of Memphis specifically was “absolutely tragic and should have progressed faster”.

“Queensland Health knows it needs to do better and they will do better,” she said.

“Whilst compassion is needed with individual cases with Queensland, we also need to make sure we are keeping Queensland safe.”

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