QLD Health Minister Rejects Dametto’s Call to Increase Patient Travel Subsidy
Queensland’s Health Minister has maintained that the Patient Transport Subsidy Scheme (PTSS) reflects modern day standards and is in no hurry to review the outdated PTSS despite acknowledging the fact that Queenslanders in rural and remote locations incur significant additional costs when accessing specialist health services.
Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP, Nick Dametto wrote to the Health Minister and also used a recent Question Time to call on the Minister to confirm if before the end of the current financial year, there would be a review into the PTSS rates.
The PTSS amounts have not been updated for 10 years, with the last increase made in 2013 when the subsidy was doubled from 15 cents per kilometre to 30 cents per kilometre. Earlier this year, the Hinchinbrook MP called for the subsidy to be doubled to 60 cents per kilometre and the overnight accommodation subsidy increased to $120 per night.
“The Minister acknowledged, and then instantly disregarded, the high financial burden placed on patients in regional and remote areas of Queensland who need access to specialist health services,” Mr Dametto said.
“I am curious to understand what ‘modern day standards’ means in the view of the Minister because to the constituents in Hinchinbrook and other remote electorates, the modern-day standard appears to have given them very little assistance with the travel and accommodation expenses they are forced to incur.
The Queensland Health Ombudsman (QHO) investigated the PTSS in 2017 and found that, despite being previously recommended to do so, Queensland Health failed to act on many prior recommendations to improve the PTSS and described the lack of action as a ‘significant administrative failure’.
“What many people don’t realise is that all Queensland Government staff, including Queensland Health employees, recently received a much overdue increase to their domestic travel allowance rates.
“The increases to the public service allowance that came into effect in February this year are significant and in some cases, single meal allowances have increased more than $11 and accommodation expenses by up to $78 per night.
“I don’t take issue with Queensland Health employees being reimbursed at the correct rate they are entitled to receive. However, the Health Minister must understand that it stings a bit more for sick regional patients who are left so much out of pocket due to the rising costs of fuel, food and accommodation when travelling away from home for essential medical treatment.
“It’s just another example of how if you live outside the south-east, or another major centre, the State Government aren’t in a rush to help you.”
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