William C. Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 6 Jul 2005 15:40:42 -0400


Homeless man left to die

Jacqueline Freegard

July 5, 2005

A HOMELESS man with cancer says he has been left to die on Melbourne's

Daniel, 36, said he was told by a doctor he would struggle to get treatment
for liver cancer without having a permanent address.
He spends nights in freezing conditions and is in constant pain.
He was given a referral from a doctor, but said he was told his chances of
beating the disease were slim.
"It's my biggest fear: that I'll be left without any help and die on the
streets," he said.
The doctor Daniel named said yesterday he would not have sent a dying man on
to the streets, and could not recall treating Daniel.
But he said the referral would have come from the Richmond clinic where he
"I would send him to a hospital," he said.
"And I encourage him to go to a hospital now."
Salvation Army spokesman John Dalziel said homeless people often struggled
to get treatment for illnesses.
"It's another byproduct of them not being able to get into a crisis centre,"
he said.
"As soon as he can get into a crisis centre, then he has access to very
well-qualified people who can then start using their knowledge to get him
the right access to hospitals."
The Salvation Army, as with all other homeless refuges, does not allow
drug-addicted people access to its shelters.
"But this distresses our people," Mr Dalziel said.
Daniel, who suffers from hepatitis C, denied he was on drugs.
He said he was in constant pain.
"The other night I woke up and couldn't feel my legs, and I have chronic
pain all over my body," he said.
"I would have liked to have children, but don't think I'll ever be able to
have children with this disease."
Opposition health spokesman David Davis said that under the Medicare
agreement, all patients who needed treatment should be able to receive it.
"Homeless patients need support to ensure that they are able to complete the
treatment that's prescribed," he said.
"They are often the sickest and most vulnerable people."
A spokesman for Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said all Victorians were
treated based on their clinical needs.
But the spokesman said it was more difficult to track down homeless people
who were in need of medical care.
"There is no reason why someone would receive less treatment because they
were homeless," he said.
"When a patient is referred to hospital and has homelessness issues, they
are assigned a case worker to help them deal with any drug and alcohol
issues, and help co-ordinate their treatment."