Macquarie University launches Access Program for patients most in need

24 February 2017

MQ Health Access Program to offer life-changing solutions with little, or no, out-of-pocket costs

  • MQ Health’s Access Program will provide reduced-cost procedures to patients who otherwise cannot afford them, with the participating surgeon or hospital footing the bill.
  • The program aims to improve quality of life of those like Jenny who was the program’s first patient to undergo surgery on 30 January, to remove excess skin after she lost 134 kilos.
  • MQ Health remains committed to making the latest treatments available to patients and ensuring the people who most need and benefit from these treatments have access to them.

Macquarie University’s MQ Health, and the Integrated Specialist Healthcare Education and Research Foundation (ISHCERF), have launched a not-for-profit, patient Access Program for those Australians most in need of surgical intervention but who are unable to meet out of pocket costs despite having adequate private health cover.

The program, which will be led by Associate Professor Anand Deva, Head of the Discipline of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at MQ Health, will offer two procedures initially: breast reduction and post weight-loss body reconstruction. Whilst not life threatening, if untreated, these two conditions can have devastating physical, emotional and psychological consequences for patients and can impact on their quality of life.

“Australia needs new paradigms for delivering health care. The Access Program aims to alleviate some of the current stresses on the system in the private health sector, by offering a limited number of affordable procedures every year for patients who have gone through a selection process, based on predetermined criteria,” said Associate Professor Deva.

“The role of the ISHCERF is to provide bridging funds for individual cases, and to negotiate with private hospital providers to allow patients to be treated at reduced, or no costs. The Foundation is the body that will grow this program in the coming years, and we are very pleased to have Macquarie University Hospital as our first participating private hospital.”

Jenny Sheenan, from Sydney, is the first patient to have been enrolled on the Access Program. She went the first of her three-part surgery on 30 January, to remove excess skin, which formed as a result of her dramatic weight loss. Jenny weighed 216 kilos, before undergoing bariatric surgery in 2015, which, combined with a dramatic lifestyle shift, diet and exercise, led to her losing an astonishing 134 kilos.

“Being a part of the Access Program means more than I will ever be able to express,” said Ms Sheenan.

“It has provided the opportunity for me to finish my weight loss journey and improve my quality of life going forward.

I would like to thank Associate Professor Deva from the bottom of my heart for his generosity and wish him and the program every success in the future.”

Associate Professor Deva explains “Jenny’s case is indicative of the thousands of Australians like her, who, having been unable to access a treatment, or service, through the public system, face having to meet the costs of, in this case, tens of thousands of dollars even though they have private health cover.

“For many, that is just not feasible,” said Associate Professor Deva.

MQ Health is able to provide this service, through a combination of unique, contributing factors: its not-for-profit status and as a result of its alliance with One Cosmetic Foundation and ISHCERF. The most significant contributor, however, to these reduced or minimally-priced procedures, is the specialist doctors that agree to be involved: those who agree to reduce, or waive their usual fee. It is this altruistic-type model, which puts the patient front-and-centre, above financial considerations, that has enabled the Access Program to form.

“We believe that our organisations, which are not-for-profit and centres of academic health excellence are well-placed to bring innovation to the healthcare sector. We understand that in order to truly impact health outcomes, we are not only obliged to make the latest treatments available, but we are committed to ensuring that the people who most need and benefit from these treatments have access to them,” said Associate Professor Deva

About MQ Health
MQ Health is the new name for the Macquarie University Health Sciences Centre, bringing together Macquarie University Hospital, Macquarie University Clinical Associates, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and clinical components of the Faculty of Human Sciences. MQ Health realises the true and seamless integration of patient-centric clinical care with life changing research and distinctive educational programs. We believe that staying at the frontier of great clinical care requires linkages to evidence based research that transitions to the patient’s bedside and a commitment to developing future healthcare professionals. MQ Health has the unique opportunity of integrating all three aspects under one governance structure. For more information visit: mqhealth.org.au.

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