PATS review overdue

OUT OF POCKET: Resident Carl Le Bon said the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme needed to be updated to better rflect the rising costs of living.Whyalla resident Carl Le Bon has welcomed the announcement by the state government that they will be reviewing the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Le Bon said the PATS system was long overdue for a review and that things needed to change to better reflect the current cost of living.

“The system is damaged,” Mr Le Bon said.

“The only changes to the PATS scheme in the last 13 years is that a pensioner can have a single night’s accommodation instead of two nights if required, previously you had to have two nights.

“The other change is the difficulty in accessing the system particularly in the past 18 months.”

Currently the PATS system provides a partial subsidy to pay for travel and accommodation costs for rural and remote South Australians travelling more than 100 kilometres to see a specialist.

Mr Le Bon said patients can use the subsidy for accommodation of their choice with the current reimbursement up to $66.

Diagnosed with leukaemia in 2000, Mr Le Bon said during this time accommodation was around $87 per night and nowadays you would be looking at $150 per night.

As for fuel, Mr Le Bon said petrol was around 85 cents per litre in 2000 but now it costs $1.50 to $1.60 a litre.

“There’s been no increase to PATS benefits since that time,” Mr Le Bon said.

“The cost of living has increased and this hasn’t been reflected by the PATS benefits.”

In late 2011, the PATS system was updated for all patients across Country Health SA to make the payment process more efficient, consistent, faster and fairer.

Mr Le Bon said now that everything needs to be done electronically, it isolates many elderly people or people unfamiliar with using this method.

“Some elderly people don’t own a card and they don’t want to give their bank details so they can’t get benefits,” Mr Le Bon said.

Mr Le Bon said there were residents in Whyalla needing the care of medical specialists in Adelaide but the current system was too difficult for them to navigate.

“People are putting themselves at risk at the moment with the way the system is managed,” Mr Le Bon said.

“Instead of having one page to fill out they now have three.

“Especially elderly people become so disillusioned to the amount of hoops they have to jump through to get anywhere.”

Mr Le Bon said the elimination of advance payments has made a significant impact on many patients with tight incomes.

Mr Le Bon said a single pensioner he knows, simply cannot afford to pay for accommodation in Adelaide upfront and then wait for the PATS reimbursement. “He sleeps in his car and then drives home the next day,” Mr Le Bon said.

Mr Le Bon said with the Whyalla hospital’s new cancer unit being built, he expects that he may be asked to transfer his regime to Whyalla but he will be saying no.

“I’ve had the same support team for 13 years, these are the people that have kept me alive, why should I change?” Mr Le Bon said.

Mr Le Bon said the current system needed to change to better accommodate the regional South Australians that are being neglected because of their postcode.

“If you happen to live “outside of SA” which ends somewhere past Port Wakefield, you’re penalised,” Mr Le Bon said.

“It needs updating, it needs to be progressive not regressive.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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