Better Access to Medical Care for Regional South Australians

Regional South Australians travelling long distances for specialist medical treatment will benefit from more flexible travel support, following changes to the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS).

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the changes will continue to build on the Marshall Government’s reform of PATS, to make it more accessible for regional South Australians.

“We are committed to ensuring all South Australians can access the care they need when and where they need it,” Minister Wade said.

“We have implemented a number of changes to the scheme to ensure living in regional areas is not a hindrance to receiving the best medical care.

“From Monday, patients eligible for a PATS subsidy will be reimbursed for the actual distance they travel to their treatment location, rather than being reimbursed for the distance travelled to Adelaide GPO.

“To help people to support their loved ones in their time of need, eligible family members or carers who travel separately to a patient in an emergency situation will now be subsidised.

“We have removed the restrictive criteria which meant that when a patient travelled interstate for treatment, their support person was unable to work near the new treatment location for the patient to continue receiving the subsidy.

“When there are unavoidable financial costs for South Australians who have no option but to travel long distances to receive a specialist medical service, we want to make sure the system is as fair and robust as possible.

“We understand regional patients need support and they need flexibility when travelling for medical appointments.

We are committed to taking away some of the stress involved in the logistics.

“These changes will introduce more flexibility, common sense and compassion to the way patient transport subsidies are provided.”

The PATS eligibility criteria has also been expanded to allow Airbnb accommodation (or similar platforms) for commercial subsidy.

An additional subsidy will also now be provided to patients needing to travel over 100kms to reach an airport, when they are medically authorised to fly.

Originally, remote patients who had to travel long distances to a regional airport for their medical treatment were not being subsidised for their land travel. Now they will be subsidised for both land and air travel.

SA Health’s Patient Assistance Transport Scheme Improvement Program Manager, Alexis Horel, said the changes to PATS ensures regional patients are better supported while travelling to receive care.

“Receiving treatment away from home is a challenging time for both patients and their families. By allowing greater flexibility within the criteria, we can help to ease some of the stress,” Ms Horel said.

“We are committed to helping regional patients and their families access the care they need and these changes will ensure the PATS is more accessible to those who need it.”

More information on the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS) and eligibility criteria can be found here.

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