Am I eligible for PATS?

Who is eligible?

To make an application for the PATS subsidy, you need to be:

  • permanent residents in a WA Country Health Service (WACHS) region
  • travelling more than 100 km one way to the nearest eligible medical specialist service including a Teleheath service
  • travelling more than 70 km (each way) to access specialist medial treatment specifically for cancer or dialysis

Escorts may be eligible to assist patients with some medical conditions, including:

  • people undergoing cancer treatment
  • the frail or the disabled
  • people under 18 years of age

You cannot claim the PATS subsidy if:

  • you are travelling to the treatment centre for another reason, such as for a holiday or to visit friends, and then need specialist treatment
  • you are a FIFO worker
  • if you live within the Perth area or live interstate and are holidaying in WA regional areas and become ill
  • working temporarily in a WA regional area
  • you are on a bridging visa
  • you are a student at boarding for school or university and need medical treatment while living in the treatment centre (such as Perth). However, a parent may be eligible for escort assistance to visit their child in the treatment centre (for example, if a child is under 18, is in hospital and requires an adult to make decisions)
  • you are eligible for alternate forms of assistance, such as through the Department of Veterans Affairs, workers compensation or other insurance, such as travel insurance.

Please note: Peel area  is not part of the WA Country Health Service, for further information please contact Peel PATS located at Rockingham General Hospital, Elanora Drive, Cooloongup. Phone: 9599 4485 Fax:  9599 4620 Email: PATS.Peel@health.wa.gov.au

Who is eligible to refer?

Applicants can be referred to eligible medical specialists or eligible specialist services by a/an:

  • General practitioner
  • Medical practitioner
  • Dentist for approved dental and/ or cleft lip/palate treatment
  • Optometrist for an appointment with an ophthalmologist
  • Registered medical specialist
  • Endorsed nurse practitioner
  • Physiotherapist or Occupational therapist for complex wheelchair assessments and review.

What specialist medical services are covered?

Most specialist medical services covered by Medicare are eligible under Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS). Contact your local PATS office for further information or you can refer to the PATS Eligible Medical Specialist List.

Services covered by PATS special rulings include:

  • Medical imaging
  • Mammography
  • Dialysis
  • Assisted reproductive treatment (IVF)
  • Deceased applicant or escort
  • Refractive surgical procedures
  • Wheelchair applicants
  • Child birth
  • Next Step (alcohol and drug authority) applicants.

Please note: Conditions apply to the above.

What specialist medical services are not covered?

Dental or orthodontic services are generally not covered. This includes:

  • The extraction of 3rd molars (wisdom teeth)-including under general anaesthesia or sedation
  • Orthodontic treatment (braces)
  • Non-surgical temporomandibular joint treatment
  • Implant surgery or crown and bridge treatment
  • Endodontics (root canal therapy)
  • Periodontal (gum) surgery or treatment

Referrals to allied health professionals are not covered. This includes:

  • Speech pathologists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Podiatrists
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Audiologists
  • Pathologists
  • Dentists
  • Nursing professionals.

Closest medical specialist services

These include:

  • Telehealth service - If a specialist medical appointment is available by Telehealth, and appropriate to the clinical circumstances, then PATS will only apply if travel to the Telehealth appointment is more than 100 km one way;
  • Hospital employed specialist;
  • GP proceduralist who can provide the required treatment; and
  • Visiting medical specialists to the region.

What kind of assistance is available?

PATS provides assistance towards travel expenses and accommodation where eligible.  Your local PATS office can provide help with organising travel and accommodation if required.   

Road travel

Road travel assistance may be provided subject to the following conditions:

  • An applicant travelling by private vehicle may claim a fuel subsidy of 16 cents per kilometre. Only one claim per vehicle is to be made.
  • When 2 or more applicants are travelling in a minibus, or similar group transport vehicle, owned by a community or organisation, the fuel subsidy is 25 cents per kilometre, per vehicle payable to the relevant organisation.
  • People travelling by coach or rail are eligible for the relevant economy or discounted fare.
  • Applicants accessing cancer or dialysis treatment who are required to travel between 70 and 100 kilometres are eligible for $20 subsidy.

Air travel

Air travel may also be covered for residents of the Pilbara and Kimberley regions and remote areas:

  • People living in the Pilbara, Kimberley and some remote areas may be also eligible for air travel if travel to the nearest specialist involves a surface travel of more than 16 hours (one way), or is subject to excessive connection delays and prolonged stops.
  • Applicants who are travelling for cancer treatment and who have to travel by road for more than 350 kms from their place of residence (if outside a town's recognised boundaries) or from their home town to the treatment centre are eligible for commercial air travel.  note: Consults are not classified as treatment.

Accommodation assistance

Accommodation subsidies are available for people who live at least 100 km away (one way) and are required to stay overnight for medical reasons, distance or transport schedules. The subsidy limits are:

  • Private home accommodation-$20 per night for an eligible applicant or $40 per night for an applicant travelling with an approved escort
  • Commercial accommodation (taxation receipts are required)-up to $60 per night for an eligible applicant or up to $75 per night for an eligible applicant travelling with an approved escort.

Additional transport assistance

Additional transport assistance in the form of taxi or airport shuttle vouchers can be available if recommended by your doctor. Taxi vouchers are not routinely provided but in limited and exceptional circumstances will be considered.

Ineligible travel costs

PATS will not be provided if:

  • Travel is undertaken as part of an inter-hospital transfer
  • A patient is eligible to claim assistance under another state, territory or Commonwealth scheme or from a registered benefits organisation
  • An amount has be received or claimed by way of compensation, damages or other payment in respect to the illness or injury being treated (i.e. Motor Vehicle Accident)
  • Injuries are sustained at work and are covered by work cover
  • Transport costs for family members, including escorts visiting a patient
  • Any additional travel costs are incurred by patients, for example, car parking fees, public transport or meal allowances
  • The patient uses a rental car (rental car hire is not supported by PATS). In this instance only the fuel subsidy will be reimbursed at the per kilometre fuel subsidy rate
  • Travel during a treatment episode between location or treatment and accommodation unless a clinical reason has been indicated by a specialist.

How to apply

Patient Assisted Travel Scheme applications are to be made by the referring medical practitioner, and must be lodged prior to travel at the patient's nearest health service.

Application forms are available from referring medical practitioners, your local PATS office or online, and can be lodged via fax, mail, email or in person.

Approval for PATS assistance must be obtained prior to travel.  Applications submitted after travel will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.  If you need to travel urgently and don't have time to submit your application, call your local PATS office for advice.

People residing in the South West have a slightly different application process and should phone the South West PATS office on 1800 823 131 for further information.

See Resources and accommodation for application forms and other information.

Contact us

If you require more information about Patient Assisted Travel Scheme please contact the PATS office in the WA region in which you are a permanent resident. See Contact us  for more.