Scared, confused elderly patients cancel health appointments
ELDERLY Northern NSW residents have been cancelling their health appointments in Queensland, frightened by the prospect of being rejected at the border and unable to navigate websites to obtain a valid pass, according to support organisations.
Phil Barron, CEO of the Tweed, Byron, Ballina Community Transport service, said they have one worker full time processing border passes for their clients who are unable to.
"Our clients are worried because we can't guarantee the trip's going to go ahead," he said.
The situation is also confusing and problematic for the service provider, he said.
"The main issue for us is that clients don't understand and are concerned, because it is problematic for anybody from outside the Tweed Shire who needs to go across to a Queensland medical centre," Mr Barron said.
"They can get a permit, but the permit says they have to quarantine."
Around 100 volunteers from the Northern Rivers and Tweed are able to cross the border with their passengers using an 'F' pass (freight and logistics), as public transport is classified as an essential service by the Queensland Government, Mr Barron said.
"They can travel (to Queensland) as long as they don't go to a shopping centre or get out of the car, and return straight away. They can't get food or do anything," he said.
"If the client had a four-hour appointment, the driver normally would wait for them, but now they can't do that.
"We are telling them to come back and we have to send another driver to pick that client up."
"Also drivers who live in the Tweed, and need to cross the border for their daily lives, if they transport someone to Lismore with a client from Tweed, they are then expected to wait 14 days before they close the border."
Mr Barron said although none of his drivers have been stopped at the border, he knows of similar services who have been sent back.
"It's too complicated and creates a lot of stress," he said.
"NSW politicians are saying that they have brokered this deal, we've made it easier, but no one from Queensland has spoken about it, there is no communication from Queensland, all the information is online there is nobody we can talk to, to check if we got it right or wrong."