Download: Review of the Patient Assistance Travel Scheme (Adobe PDF document - 174KB) | DOCX (131KB)
What is the Patient Assistance Travel Scheme?
The Patient Assistance Travel Scheme (PATS) is a subsidy program funded by the Northern Territory Government to provide financial assistance to Territorians who are referred by a practitioner to the nearest approved specialist medical service.
PATS covers fares for travel and provides a subsidy for accommodation and some financial assistance for ground transport e.g. taxis.
PATS is not a full payment scheme. It is a subsidy scheme that only pays a portion of your costs, and only for a limited time. You are responsible for any additional costs.
Who is eligible for PATS?
If you have to travel more than 200km one way, or more than 400kms cumulatively in one week, to access an approved specialist medical service, and are eligible for Medicare and are an Australia citizen or permanent resident, living in the Northern Territory for six months or more, then you are eligible for financial assistance from PATS.
Who is not eligible for PATS?
If you are visiting the Northern Territory from interstate or overseas you are not eligible for PATS.
If you have been resident for less than six months in the Northern Territory, or live primarily in another jurisdiction (e.g. FIFO) then you are not eligible for PATS.
If your costs for treatment are to be covered by a third party, for example Worksafe or Department of Veterans Affairs you are not eligible for PATS.
What specialist services are covered under PATS?
PATS provides financial assistance for people to access the nearest approved specialist medical treatment in the Northern Territory.
A range of specialist services is eligible for assistance under the Scheme. You can discuss this with your practitioner.
What is an escort and who can be an escort?
An escort is someone who accompanies a patient when they travel. This can be to assist them in their treatment, in an active role as a carer or if the patient is impaired.
A patient's need for an escort is determined by your referring practitioner, however there are some situations when an escort is automatically approved:
- The patient is under 18 years of age.
- If a patient has a child under the age of two travelling with them.
- You are travelling interstate for surgery or intensive treatments.
There are other circumstances where escorts are approved and you can discuss this with your practitioner.
Escorts are not approved for emotional support or to keep the patient company. Of course people can travel with the patient in these circumstances, but they will be responsible for the costs of their travel.
What financial assistance is available?
Patients and approved escorts are eligible for travel and accommodation assistance at the following rates:
Full cover for air and bus travel, at the most economical rate taking into account all travel factors.
- Commercial - $60 per person per night
- Private - $20 per person per night
$50 per patient per trip (escorts are not eligible for a ground subsidy)
20 cents per kilometre
Can I choose where I go and who my specialist is?
PATS provides assistance to access the nearest available approved specialist service in the Northern Territory. If you wish to travel interstate for your treatment or attend a specialist of your own choosing, that is not at the nearest approved service, then you are not eligible for PATS assistance and must fund the travel yourself.
If, after attending the nearest specialist service in the Northern Territory, your practitioner determines you need to receive treatment interstate when you may be eligible for assistance under PATS.
How do I apply?
When your practitioner makes a referral to an approved specialist service they will make an application on your behalf for PATS. The practitioner will detail the service you need to attend, the location and any other relevant details.
This application will then be submitted for approval.
If your PATS application is approved then you have two options; your local PATS office can arrange your travel or you can arrange the travel yourself and claim reimbursement after the trip.
Please note that if you arrange your own travel you will need to keep all of your receipts to be able to claim reimbursement. No receipts, no reimbursement.
Also, you need to remember that this is a subsidy scheme and does not cover all of your costs. If you choose to purchase a high flexible airfare or stay in expensive accommodation you will only receive reimbursement at the rates outlined above.
Following these changes to the Scheme, if you have any questions at all about your eligibility or what assistance is available, please contact us by emailing PATSReviewHelp.THS@nt.gov.au.
For bookings or claims please contact your local PATS office:
- Royal Darwin Hospital: 8922 8135
- Katherine Hospital: 8973 9206
- Gove District Hospital: 8987 0201
- Alice Springs Hospital: 8951 7846
- Tennant Creek Hospital: 8962 4262