Review of patient transport assistance scheme
The Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS) provides a vital service for country Victorians needing to travel long distances to seek specialist medical and dental services. National Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes has called on the Brumby Government to undertake a review of the scheme in light of on going criticisms from the Benalla electorate.
Currently the scheme reimburses users at the rate of 17 cents per kilometre and overnight accommodation at $35 per night. The eligibility criteria sets a minimum of 100 kilometres travelled one way to receive treatment or an average weekly travel of 500 kilometres per week for a minimum of five consecutive weeks. Families who rely on the scheme find allowances fall well short of meeting costs.
“VPTAS is as essential service however members of the electorate continue to raise their concerns in relation to short falls with the scheme,” Bill Sykes said. “I spoke to one resident recently who fell short of the 100 kilometre minimum by 2 kilometres and therefore did not receive any assistance with travel costs. I have rasied this matter with the Minister for health but he was not prepared to change the guidelines.”
VPTAS was revised in October 2007, increasing travel rates from 14 to 17 cents and accommodation from $30 to $35. Despite these improvements there is still a need to ensure fair eligibility criteria for country Victorians.
“Country Victorians who seek assistance through VPTAS are already experiencing undue stress having to care for loved ones with disabilities or severe illness. It is important VPTAS provides an essential service without impacting in a negative way on people’s lives,” Bill Sykes said.