Increased regional health care support under re-elected McGowan Government

Posted on January 13, 2021
  • $19.7m to increase Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) from $60 to $100 per night, with more access for patient support for vulnerable people
  • $30.1m for 18 more professional paramedics throughout regional WA to support existing volunteer services
  • Commitments build on McGowan Government’s improvements to PATS and regional health over past four years

Regional Western Australians’ access to quality healthcare will be enhanced under a re-elected McGowan Government, with expanded support for the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) and more paid paramedics in the country.

PATS currently provides regional residents travelling to medical appointments more than 100km from home with financial assistance of $60 per night.

A re-elected McGowan Government will invest an additional $19.7 million to increase support to $100 per night and expand eligibility for patient support escorts – providing vulnerable patients with more access to be accompanied by a support person when travelling for medical appointments.

The additional PATS support will help ease the financial burden regional residents face when travelling for medical appointments, covering a greater proportion of travel and accommodation costs.

The expanded patient support escort eligibility will cover patients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, those with significant sensory impairments, those with physical or cognitive impairments and people travelling to give birth.

These improvements will give the partners of pregnant women travelling to give birth access to PATS – helping to bring an end to cases where some pregnant women travel unaccompanied and give birth alone, leaving them at greater risk of peri and post-natal depression.

This commitment will represent the first increase to the PATS subsidy since 2009 and build on the significant work the McGowan Government has already undertaken to improve the system.

It also builds on our commitment to ensure Western Australia’s regional residents will pay less for flights to and from Perth under a re-elected McGowan Labor Government, with a new initiative to cap airfare prices to more remote parts of the State. The $19.8 million initiative will contribute to making airfare pricing fairer while increasing the frequency of flights to and from regional destinations.

A re-elected McGowan Government will also commit $30.1 million to employ an additional 18 full time equivalent paid paramedics throughout regional WA to support the network of volunteer paramedics.

The commitment will employ more paid paramedics in every region, providing greater support to regional WA’s 3,000 volunteer ambulance officers.

The commitment follows the McGowan Government’s successful trial of the model in the Kimberley region, with the expansion to create 18 new jobs in the regions, improve regional WA’s COVID-19 preparedness and foster a more sustainable and reliable country ambulance service.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“The Patient Assisted Travel Scheme is a lifeline for regional Western Australians who need to travel away from home to access medical treatment.

“Over the past four years my government has invested heavily to improve regional health services, but the massive size of our State means many still need to travel to Perth or regional centres for specialist medical treatment.

“Increasing the PATS subsidy to $100 per night will help ease the burden for patients and their families, helping to pay for transport and accommodation for medical visits.

“People facing medical issues have enough on their plate without having to be burdened with the costs of travel and accommodation.

“This additional PATS support will make sure we do more to support country people with medical conditions and their families so they can focus on their treatment and recovery.

“Our volunteer country paramedics do an incredible job, giving up their time to save lives and keep regional Western Australians safe all around the State.

“The volunteer model serves Western Australia well, but by providing an additional 18 paid paramedics we will ensure greater support to our hardworking volunteers and improve the reliability of country ambulance services.

“Having more paid paramedics will assist with the recruitment, training, mentoring and retention of volunteer ambulance officers around the State, improving our COVID-19 preparedness and providing regional WA with better ambulance services.”

What the McGowan Labor Government is already delivering: 

  • Expanded the WA Country Health Service’s Meet and Greet service for eligible Aboriginal patients who travel from rural and remote areas of Western Australia to Perth, to receive specialist medical treatment, with the recruitment of two new drivers.
  • $1.6 million to create culturally appropriate accommodation for Aboriginal patients and their carers while visiting metropolitan hospitals.
  • $9.7 million to expand the Emergency Telestroke Service to a 24/7 service
  • $1.6 million over four years for the Find Cancer Early program in regional areas;
  • $10.3 million for the WA Country Health Service Command Centre
  • $18.8 million to operate six regional renal hostels that provide accommodation for renal patients that travel from remote communities, as announced in the recent State Budget.