Healthcare investment equates to new ambulance station for Port Augusta

INVESTMENT: Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade with members of the Port Augusta SA Ambulance Service.
INVESTMENT: Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade with members of the Port Augusta SA Ambulance Service.

A multi-million dollar investment in regional healthcare will see a new ambulance station delivered at Port Augusta.

The existing Port Augusta station is more than 40 years old, with limited facilities, garaging and parking.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the $4.3 million build is about providing better healthcare, closer to home.

"Port Augusta is a pivotal site for SA Ambulance Service (SAAS), sitting at the intersection of major transport corridors, including the Stuart, Eyre and Augusta highways, and the Flinders Ranges Way," Minister Wade said.

"As the fifth most populous city in South Australia and the second largest on the Eyre Peninsula, it is imperative that Port Augusta has an ambulance station that can meet the community's needs, both now and well into the future."

SAAS Executive Director of Country Operations Julia Waddington-Powell welcomed the announcement.

"This is a significant investment at Port Augusta," Ms Waddington-Powell said.

"This funding will enable SAAS to identify an appropriate site and develop a purpose-built, state-of-the-art base for our crews and the essential equipment they need to provide a vital service to local communities."

SAAS Operations Manager, Far North and West Coast, Robert Tolson said that, once complete, the new station will accommodate more than 20 staff and garaging for seven operational vehicles.

"It is pleasing that our Port Augusta crews will have modern facilities from which they can continue to provide high-quality patient care to the community," Mr Tolson said.

"The new facility will meet the community's current service delivery needs and ensure SAAS continues to have the capacity to grow and adapt to changing needs.

The new project is part of the state government's $42.8 million infrastructure stimulus package announced by the Marshall government earlier this week.

While the focus remains on delivering better healthcare in regional South Australian, Minister Wade also revealed changes to the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS).

"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," Minister Wade said.

"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."

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.