The Hon. Chris Picton, Minister for Health & Wellbeing (SA), Media Release, 28 November 2023
South Australians living in rural and regional areas will now be eligible for financial support to travel to specialist Prosthetic and Orthotic clinics for health appointments, under an expansion of the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme.
Less than a year after doubling the fuel subsidy for eligible medical appointments, the Malinauskas Labor Government is now expanding the scheme to include prosthetic and orthotic appointments.
The move means regional and rural South Australians who need artificial legs or arms, foot supports for diabetes or braces for vascular conditions will be able to claim the rebate of 32c per kilometre if they have to travel more than 100km each way to appointments.
The rebate will save a person travelling from Renmark to the Royal Adelaide Hospital and back about $160, and a person travelling from Port Augusta to Adelaide return approximately $190.
Consultation with specialists and consumers has identified orthotic and prosthetic appointments as a major gap for PATS support. The expansion is expected to subsidise more than 45,000 kilometres of travel to specialist fittings and check-ups in its first year alone.
To qualify for this service, people must attend either a public or private hospital or outpatient clinic, and the treatment provider must be a full member of the Australian Orthotic Prosthetic Association (AOPA).
This is the third major improvement to PATS in 2023. In January, the fuel subsidy was doubled from 16c to 32c per kilometre, while in August, the subsidy was extended to help with the costs of the ferry for Kangaroo Island locals needing to travel to specialist appointments.
Last year, more than 13,000 South Australians received financial support through PATS.
People living in remote areas are encouraged to check their eligibility and apply for subsidies by submitting a claim on the PATS website.
Paper forms are also available online or at GP clinics.
PATS has five offices located in regional SA hospitals including Mount Gambier, Berri, Port Augusta, Whyalla and Port Lincoln.
More information can be found here.
Quotes attributable to Chris Picton
PATS delivers really important financial assistance to thousands of South Australians in regional and rural areas each year for medical appointments.
I’m proud that we can now help even more people access the care they need, especially when they have to travel long distances from home.
This expansion means more South Australians will be able to get to their orthotic and prosthetic appointments in the first place, and help them maintain the supports which make a huge difference to their quality of life.
Earlier this year, we doubled the fuel subsidy for eligible appointments which was the first major increase to the scheme in more than 20 years.
Quotes attributable to Rural Support Service Executive Director, Debbie Martin
This is the third expansion of the PATS program in 2023 and we are hearing loud and clear that it is making a huge difference to many South Australians.
With the rising costs of living and increasing fuel costs, we know how important this subsidy is to people living in regional and remote communities.
This increase will give a helping hand to more people across South Australia needing to travel to vital medical appointments.