Regional people who travel long distances to attend specialist medical treatment will benefit from more flexible travel support, following changes to the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme.
Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade said the changes will continue to build on the state government's reform of the scheme to support those living in regional SA.
"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."
He explained that from Monday, November 2, 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.
"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," Minister Wade said.
The aim, he says, is 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," Minister Wade added.
These changes further aim to 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.
Furthermore, 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.
Receiving treatment away from home is a challenging time for both patients and their families.SA Health's Alexis Horel
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 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 scheme and eligibility criteria, visit www.sahealth.sa.gov.au.