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06 Jan 2015

Patient Assisted Travel Schemes

Senate Inquiry into Patient Assisted Travel Schemes (PATS)

In 2007, a federal parliamentary inquiry was held into 'the Operation and Effectiveness of Patient Assisted Travel Schemes' (PATS).

The Senate Community Affairs Committee inquiry investigated several aspects of travel and accommodation schemes, including eligibility criteria, application of rules, and different levels of financial contribution offered to patients travelling long distances for treatment. All schemes are administered by states and territories and vary widely in terms of support and eligibility criteria.

BCNA developed a submission to the enquiry in consultation with members of our Rural and Remote Working Party. We made ten recommendations for a unified system with streamlined processes.


Our submission was based on our long-standing concerns about the effectiveness of PATS in supporting those who need assistance to get to the treatment centres. Our main concerns are that the schemes fail to provide adequate assistance to women who:

  • choose to re-locate to major cities to attend daily radiotherapy for five to six weeks (even if the return journey can be physically completed within one day)
  • are accompanied by support persons (for reasons other than 'medical')
  • are travelling with dependent children
  • choose to travel to specialist centres best suited to treating their breast cancer and meeting their needs, irrespective of state or territory borders
  • travel for treatment provided by a multidisciplinary team of specialists of their choice
  • receive specialist allied health assessments and treatments.

In addition, BCNA has found that women's experiences of PATS are less than ideal:

  • the process for referral is unnecessarily complex, adding an additional layer of burden to their treatment experience
  • there is insufficient information about the schemes
  • the amount of paperwork is often daunting.

The Committee presented its report to The Senate in September 2007, making 16 recommendations.

In February 2010, the Government provided its response to the Committee's report. It committed the Australian Government to working with the state and territory governments to improve the system, but did not take on leadership of any reform process. It did not respond to the specific recommendations contained in The Senate report.

BCNA is disappointed that no real progress seems to be being made to improve PATS across the country.

More information