Sleep de­vice needed but out of reach

Geraldton Guardian - - NEWS - Tamra Carr

The ma­chines are ex­pen­sive — even the hire rates are re­ally high, and when you’re on ben­e­fits you just can’t af­ford that sort of thing.

Brett Her­bert

Brett Her­bert’s sleep ap­noea ma­chine is old and worn out, but the Utakarra res­i­dent says he lives on par­tial dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits and can­not af­ford a new one.

Mr Her­bert, 50, has used the ma­chine for close to five years af­ter his girl­friend no­ticed he would snore and stop breath­ing while sleep­ing.

He has a de­gen­er­a­tive spine con­di­tion and suf­fers from fi­bromyal­gia, which causes aches and mus­cle stiff­ness.

For Mr Her­bert, pain is part of ev­ery­day life.

“When I have flare-ups I just can’t move — there’s pain in my mus­cles, you can get anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, and for me there’s also chronic fa­tigue,” he said.

“You suf­fer with all these aches and there’s just not a day that’s pain-free.”

Mr Her­bert’s health prob­lems have forced him to hang up his hat on his ca­reer, which has spanned work­ing for min­ing com­pa­nies, cray-fish­ing and health­care work.

He is now sup­ported through par­tial dis­abil­ity pay­ments, which he said would not buy him a new sleep ap­noea ma­chine — a de­vice that typ­i­cally costs around $1000.

Mr Her­bert has asked the State to make these ma­chines more ac­ces­si­ble to users. “The ma­chines are ex­pen­sive — even the hire rates are re­ally high and when you’re on ben­e­fits, you just can’t af­ford that sort of thing,” he said.

“I think it’s some­thing the Gov­ern­ment has over­looked in the health sys­tem.

“Some­times it seems like they would rather build stat­ues in the mid­dle of nowhere than fund im­por­tant things.”

The State re­port­edly sub­sidises sleep ap­noea ma­chines if a suf­ferer vis­its a sleep con­sul­tant.

A con­sul­tant must then sub­mit a form to the West Aus­tralian Sleep Dis­or­ders Re­search In­sti­tute and a com­mit­tee will re­view ap­pli­ca­tions once a month.

Pa­tients must pay a $150 bond and pay for the mask for the ma­chine out of pocket.

Pic­ture: Tamra Carr

Brett Her­bert says his sleep ap­noea ma­chine needs an up­grade but he can­not af­ford it.

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