Patients in rural Queensland are often travelling long distances to city hospitals to have cancer treatment.
According to research by Matthew Worden, many country patients do not know they might be able to claim travel subsidies for these trips.
The patient travel subsidy scheme (PTSS) is a Queensland Health initiative that supports patients travelling to hospitals more than 50km away from their local hospital.
The subsidy is set at 30c per kilometre regardless of the mode of transport and should be paid within 30 days of claiming.
Patients must first apply online, then have their GP complete a form and finally have the hospital confirm the attendance.
Although this subsidy exists for all Queenslanders, Dr Michael Rice of Beaudesert Medical Centre believes many of his patients travelling to Brisbane regulary for treatment “don’t even know the subsidy exists, let alone how to apply for it.”
“Raising awareness in the community is more important than ever” he said.
With most of the application being done online, he believes GPs should ensure that the PTSS is discussed with as many patients as possible so that they can do their own research.
Research conducted at Beaudesert Medical Centre by Mr Worden showed that patients found the PTSS “stressful” and felt “unsupported.”
Those who had chemotherapy or radiation treatment made many more trips to Brisbane and had the highest travel costs.
Several patients reported that they wished they had been made aware of the subsidy earlier.
The organisation Breaking Down Barriers for Rural Patients in City Hospitals works to coordinate travel arrangements for rural patients.
A spokesperson said many patients have no idea that they could claim the PTSS for travel.
They said that many patients do not finish their applications because “no one ever has the conversation with them” about the steps.
The PTSS application process can be stressful and confusing for patients. For more information about the PTSS visit https://www.qld.gov.au/health/services/travel/subsidies or ask your GP.