True cost of medical treatment for the poor and homeless

True cost of medical treatment for the poor and homeless

The poorest of the poor continue to miss out on basic medical treatment, according to the Uniting Church’s Exodus Foundation, leaving them prone to major illness.

Founder and CEO of The Exodus Foundation, the Rev. Bill Crews, said, “The Productivity Commission Report has shown that nearly 9% of people deferred visiting a GP simply because they couldn’t afford it. This directly reflects our experience at The Exodus Foundation.”

The Exodus Foundation provides welfare services to tens of thousands of people each year, the majority of whom simply can not afford to visit the doctor. “The situation was so bad that we decided to establish our own free on-site doctors surgery,”said Mr Crews.

Volunteer doctors now see up to 35 patients a week and what they discovered confirmed their worst fears.

“The majority of the patients had three major health problems – heart disease, diabetes and varying degrees of mental illness. Left untreated I would have been conducting funeral services for these people”, said Mr Crews.

The Exodus Foundation revealed the sad irony that the sickest in the community were often the ones who could least afford a doctor. The price of medical care could cost lives, Mr Crews said.

Nor could they afford the lifesaving medications they needed. “Despite our pleas to drug companies for donations of medication we do not receive any regular supply. This means our scarce charity dollars must be spent buying medication”, said Mr Crews.

“It staggers me that organisations like The Exodus Foundation are left to fill the void in the health system”, he said. “Providing the poorest in our community with easily accessible and affordable basic medical care ought to be a priority.”

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