Patient transport scheme changes hailed 'win for regional residents'

Wednesday November 27, 2019

Published by The Border Watch

PATIENT WIN: Independent MP Troy Bell has labelled changes to the State Government’s transport scheme as a win and will allow people greater flexibility while travelling to attend medical appointments.

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has described long awaited changes to the State Government’s Patient Assisted Transport Scheme (PATS) scheme as a “win for regional people”.

Hundreds of people attended a Mount Gambier public forum arranged by the Independent MP in February to voice their concerns about the Patient Assisted Transport Scheme.

Mr Bell said the forum gave Health Minister Stephen Wade personal insight into issues with the current system.

“I’m pleased to see the concerns of regional people have been taken seriously by Minister Wade and now we have a direct response to feedback from our forum,” he said.

“This is a win for all South Australians who need to access specialist medical treatment, both now and into the future.”

In changes announced this week, restrictions that required patients to travel directly to and from their appointment have been lifted, along with the limitation that disqualified people from receiving a subsidy if they stayed more than two additional nights in commercial accommodation, or more than five additional nights with family and friends.

Mr Bell said the changes will allow people have greater flexibility and the ability to extend their trip to see family and friends.

“Now, people greater flexibility to combine multiple medical appointments into one trip, something they were previously penalised for,” he said.

Additionally, the scheme will now support people with a terminal condition who are seeing a medical specialist to continue to see that specialist, even if another specialist becomes available nearer to where they live.

In a statement, Mr Wade praised the initiative of the Independent MP in organising the forum.

“It was clear from the community forum that Troy Bell convened in Mount Gambier in February the PATS scheme needs updating,” he said.

“These changes build on the feedback we received through the forum. They introduce more flexibility, common sense and compassion to the way PATS operates.

“As we work through other opportunities to improve PATS, the Marshall Liberal Government will continue to seek the insights of country South Australians.”

Mr Bell said he would continue to push for additional changes to the scheme, to reflect the changing needs of regional people.

“Access to the same medical treatment is a right no matter where you choose to live,” he said.

“I’d like to thank the hundreds of people who have taken the time to write, phone or visit my office over the last four years and those who attended our PATS forum in February.”