Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS)
The Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS) is a subsidy program that provides money to pay for some travel, escort and accommodation costs when rural and remote South Australians travel over 100 kilometres each way to see a specialist.
You are eligible to make a PATS application if you live more than 100 kilometres away from the nearest treating specialist, your treatment is claimable under Medicare and if you have claimed any available benefits from your private health fund first (if applicable). You do not need to visit your local doctor to make an application, but you must ensure there is no medical specialist service available closer to home.
Accommodation costs, as well as travel may also be covered. Specific details of what is included can be found in the PATS Guidelines for Assessment (PDF 744KB).
In 2014, a review of the scheme indicated that the information available was lacking in detail to be clear and consistent. From 1 July 2016, you will therefore also see some clarifications to the PATS Guidelines for Assessment (PDF 744KB). The clarifications to the eligibility criteria have been widely consulted on through working groups, including consumers and clinicians across country SA. Key items included in these clarifications from 1 July 2016 confirm:
- If air travel is needed, the medical specialist can authorise this. There is no requirement for pre-air approvals.
- the criteria for air travel for those with mobility impairment are clearly defined
- you have six (6) months to submit your application after the date of the specialist visit
- travel only may be paid if you extend your visit by up to 3 extra days for personal reasons
- the criteria for receiving subsidy when ‘bypassing’ the nearest specialist is clearly defined
- interstate referrals are only eligible for accommodation subsidies if the patient is sent by an SA Health facility that pays the travel.
Access the PATS online calculator tool to accurately determine the distance you travel from your permanent place of residence to specialist medical services.
Making a claim online
You can complete and submit an application for a PATS subsidy through the online portal.
Visit the PATS online portal.
If you are using the PATS online portal for the first time, you will need to register a user account, via the Sign Up link on the portal logon page. This will require a valid e-mail address and your Medicare numbers.
The portal can be accessed by your GP and Specialist medical practitioner, so printed forms are not required.
Registration for GPs and Specialists
GPs and Specialist medical practitioners must register and be certified by PATS for portal access.
Access the PATS online portal authoriser registration.
Paper-based applications are still accepted for PATS subsidies.
Patients can complete and send the relevant sections of the application form after visiting a specialist. A local doctor must complete Section 1 only if confirmation of the nearest specialist eligibility is required.
The application form is available in three sections:
- PATS application form - Section 1 for Local Doctors (PDF 1.5MB)
- PATS application form - Section 2 for Specialists (PDF 1.5MB)
- PATS application form - Section 3 for Patients (PDF 2MB)
Post July 1 2016, application forms must be lodged within six (6) months of the first specialist appointment.
Please note that previous versions of the application forms including the brown PATS ‘Application for Assistance’ form and the interim grey PATS ‘Country Health SA Hospital Inc Patient Assistance Transport Scheme Application Form’ are not accepted.
Contact Country Health SA Local Health Network:
Phone: 1300 341 684