Patient travel changes a win for Discovery Coast locals
Residents of the Discovery Coast area will benefit from a new Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service patient travel subsidy ruling that will offer new or increased reimbursements for trips to Bundaberg Hospital.
Following updated advice on the application of the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS), the ruling means most Discovery Coast residents’ closest designated public health care facility will be the Agnes Water Discovery Coast Community Health Service, where WBHHS provides a number of community health clinics.
This change will enable more equitable access to PTSS for these residents, who will now be eligible for a $73.20 Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme payment when travelling to Bundaberg Hospital.
“WBHHS has reviewed the PTSS guidelines with the benefit of updated advice, which has resulted in Discovery Coast residents now being eligible for the subsidy, and enabled us to address an issue that we know has caused frustration for this part of our community for some time,” Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Peta Jamieson said.
“This is great news for the residents of these communities, many of whom previously had Bundaberg Hospital classified as their closest public health facility and had difficulty accessing reimbursements under the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme guidelines.
“We understand the cost and burden that travelling for care can cause, which is why delivering more care locally and improving access to our services are key parts of our 2018-2022 strategic plan, Care Comes First…Through Patients’ Eyes. Providing regular visiting community clinics to the Agnes area and working to resolve this PTSS eligibility issue for our patients are great demonstrations of that.
“This will make a real difference to ensuring patients from these areas receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”
Chief Executive Adrian Pennington said improving equity of access for rural patients, as well as more opportunities for them to provide input about their needs, was an increasing focus for WBHHS.
“We’ve recently established a Community Reference Group (CRG) in Agnes Water, which was a direct result of community consultation sessions on our strategic plan last year,” he said.
“The creation of that group has enabled us to work directly with the community to develop solutions for some of their challenges, including service provision and PTSS.
“There’s more work to be done, but we’re pleased with the progress we’ve made in the short time since the CRG was established.”
Miriam Vale residents will continue to have Gladstone Hospital designated as their closest public health facility.
“Existing patients from the Miriam Vale area have their PTSS reimbursement based on Gladstone Hospital being their closest facility, because if we changed that to Agnes Water they would receive a smaller payment,” Ms Jamieson said.
“To ensure these patients were not adversely impacted, WBHHS made a decision to continue to recognise Gladstone Hospital as the closest facility both for existing and new patients from the Miriam Vale area.”
In a separate ruling, patients travelling from Rosedale will now have Gin Gin Hospital recognised as their closest hospital, enabling them to access a $30 subsidy when travelling to Bundaberg Hospital.
The changes will apply immediately, and will also be retrospectively applied back to January 1, 2019.
WBHHS will continue to review patient travel subsidy arrangements and welcomes consumer feedback.
For more information on the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme, go to https://www.qld.gov.au/health/services/travel/subsidies or contact the WBHHS Patient Travel Office on 4150 2176.