Treatments and tests

Patient Assisted Travel Scheme

The Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) provides permanent country residents in a WA Country Health Service region with financial assistance when travelling more than 100kms to access the nearest eligible medical specialist service (including Telehealth).

Country patients needing to travel more than 70kms to access specialist medical treatment for cancer or dialysis, where the health service is unable to provide a transport service, are also eligible for some assistance.

PATS provides a subsidy to eligible patients, however it does not cover all costs associated with travel and accommodation.

PATS is partly funded by Royalties for Regions.


To make a claim for the subsidy, you need to be:

  • a permanent resident of a WA Country Health Service (WACHS) region
  • travelling more than 100km one way to access your nearest eligible medical specialist service (including a Telehealth service).
  • you are undergoing cancer or renal treatment and need to travel more than 70km.

You cannot claim the subsidy if you are:

  • travelling to the treatment centre for another reason, such as for a holiday or to visit friends, and then need specialist treatment
  • a FIFO worker
  • on a bridging visa
  • a student at boarding for school or university and need medical treatment while living in the treatment centre (such as Perth). However, a parent may be eligible for escort assistance to visit their child in the treatment centre (for example, if a child is under 18, is in hospital and requires an adult to make decisions)
  • eligible for alternate forms of assistance, such as through the Department of Veterans Affairs, workers compensation or other insurance, such as travel insurance.

Are there exceptions to the minimum distance criteria?

Yes. If you need to travel between 70 and 100 kilometres for cancer or dialysis treatment, you may be eligible for limited PATS assistance.

I live in Peel. Am I eligible?

Peel is not part of the WA Country Health Service. However, some residents of the Peel region have limited access to PATS and should contact Peel PATS (refer to the 'location and contacts' section on this page.

I’m seeing a private specialist. Am I eligible for assistance?

Yes. There is no distinction between public and private specialists for the purposes of PATS.

What does PATS cover?

Does PATS only cover you from the town centre?

Generally, PATS covers your travel from your town centre to the place where your treatment takes place. However, if you live outside the town boundaries, notify your local PATS office and the extra distance can be added to your reimbursement.

Will PATS pay for taxi vouchers?

Not usually. In limited and exceptional circumstances, they may be provided. For example, if a person is using a wheelchair, is blind or has severe vision impairment, or has an intellectual disability. PATS staff will consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.

There are a number of bus services that operate from the domestic airport to Perth, including Route 380, which has accessible buses that stop at Belmont Forum and Victoria Park.

Visit the Perth Airport website for information about public transport (external site) options.

Are all health treatments covered?

No. PATS helps give you access to specialist medical services only.

PATS doesn’t cover:

  • the extraction of third molars (wisdom teeth) – including under general anaesthetic or sedation
  • orthodontic treatment (braces)
  • non-surgical temporo-mandibular joint treatment
  • implant surgery or crown and bridge treatment
  • endodontics (root canal therapy)
  • periodontal (gum) surgery or treatment
  • MBS items in the Allied Health and Dental Services book (10975 – 10977)
  • cosmetic surgery
  • complementary health treatments, such as acupuncture or herbal therapy
  • physiotherapy, speech therapy, podiatry, occupational therapy and other allied health treatments.

Also see allied and dental treatment below.

I want to travel to a different specialist that is further away. Will PATS assist me?

No. PATS only provides a subsidy for travel to the nearest medical specialist. This includes specialist services delivered by Telehealth.

What is an allied health treatment?

Allied health services include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, clinical psychology, podiatry, dietary and nutrition services, respiratory therapy and other health care services.

Are allied health treatments covered?

Not usually. PATS is designed for access to specialist medical treatment.

If you need allied health treatment associated with specialist treatment, you may be able to receive an extra night or two of accommodation supported by PATS.

Is dental treatment covered?

Most general dental treatments are not covered.

The main dental treatments covered by PATS are:

Dental and oral specialists:

  • specialists treatments covered by Oral and Maxillofacial Medicare Benefits Schedule items, including facial trauma, jaw fractures, serious dentofacial infections and oral malignancy (cancer)
  • treatment provided under the Cleft Lip and Palate Scheme.

Services for young children under 8 years of age:

  • urgent and critical dental treatment requiring general anaesthesia. This includes removal of tongue tie for a newborn baby by a specialist paediatric dentists in cases where the child is not thriving.

Services for children:

  • hospital-based management of severe dental trauma or severe dentofacial infections, such as cellulitis
  • hospital-based dental services for children with significant medical co-morbidity or other serious conditions

Services for adults:

  • hospital-based dental services for adults with significant medical co-morbidity or other serious conditions
  • dental treatment for adults with special needs requiring general anaesthesia

Contact your local PATS office for further information on dental treatments covered under PATS.

I don’t quite fit the criteria but I still need financial assistance – what should I do?

If you are not eligible for PATS but you still meet the intent of the scheme – that is, you are a country resident who needs to travel for specialist treatment – you may have your application approved as an Exceptional Ruling.

An Exceptional Ruling is made by the Regional Director. You need to provide as much supporting information as you can to support your claim. This may include letters from your doctor or other specialist, copies of appointments letters, information from Centrelink, or anything else that may help the Regional Director make a decision. Every Exceptional Ruling is made on its merits, and does not form a precedent for future decisions.

Am I eligible for accommodation assistance after I get out of hospital or after I’ve been taken to hospital in an emergency?

You will be provided with PATS accommodation assistance following discharge after you’ve been admitted to hospital if you:

  • are required to stay at or near the treatment centre for outpatient specialist medical care after discharge from hospital
  • transport schedules do not permit immediate transport home on the day of discharge. This only applies where the earliest available transport of the approved type is utilised
  • have to remain overnight while in transit (for example, you are waiting transfer back to a remote community), and/ or
  • are required to return to the specialist for a follow-up appointment within a short period following discharge.

When am I eligible for accommodation assistance?

You are eligible for accommodation assistance only if you live more than 100 km from the treatment centre and the:

  • medical specialist certifies that you need to stay overnight for follow-up
  • forward and return journeys cannot reasonably be completed in one day because of factors such as:
    • time required travelling
    • type of travel
    • transport schedules and availability, or
    • your medical condition.

If you are required to attend an associated allied health appointment after your specialist appointment, you may be able to extend your stay by one or two days.

Escorts and carers

I need someone to travel with me. Will PATS assist?

You may be eligible for an escort (someone to travel with you to your specialist appointment) if:

a) the person being escorted is a dependent child

b) Centrelink has determined that you are under the care of a principal carer

c) you are a home dialysis patient who is receiving training (a carer is required to attend as a condition of the medical specialist treatment)

d) the escort is legally required to make decisions on your behalf, and/or

e) the referring practitioner, prior to departure specifies the reason why an escort’s presence is essential, on the PATS application form, based on their assessment that you would be unable to manage their treatment alone, particularly if the applicant is undergoing treatment for cancer or is disabled or frail.

I’ve had a medical emergency, and have been sent to hospital with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) or by Inter Hospital Patient Transfer (sent from one hospital to another). Am I eligible for an escort while i'm in hospital?

An escort is usually not required while a person is being treated in hospital, unless there are special circumstances which are requested by the treating specialist. You may be eligible for an escort after you have been discharged if you need assistance to return home.

Specialist medical services

An eligible medical specialist service includes:

a) a medical practitioner who is recognised as a specialist for Medicare Benefits purposes (with the exception of pathology and/or clinical pharmacology)

b) a hospital or health service employed medical specialist

c) a specialist medical service or oral surgery item covered by an item in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Book

d) specialist services involved in the fitting of an artificial limb

e) specialist services involved in the fitting of an artificial eye

f) dental treatment covered by an item in the Medicare Benefits for Services by Accredited Dental Practitioners in the Treatment of Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Conditions Booklet

g) services covered by PATS Exceptional Rulings.

PATS assistance is available for four antenatal visits to the nearest GP Obstetrician, with each pregnancy. If additional antenatal visits are required, the medical practitioner needs to provide supporting clinical information.

If you are not sure if the treatment you are seeking is eligible, speak to your local PATS office.

Can I travel to see a specialist if there is a similar specialist I can see locally through Telehealth?

No. If the specialty you need is available through Telehealth, you are only eligible for PATS for assistance to get to the Telehealth appointment.

I’ve been seeing my specialist for years, but now there is a specialist travelling closer to home. Can I still see my original specialist?

You can’t get PATS assistance to travel to your original specialist if there is a closer one, unless there are clinical (medical) reasons for you to do so.

Application process

You need to apply for PATS before you travel for treatment. You then claim for your expenses after you have been to your specialist appointment.

How do I make a PATS claim?

  1. You need a PATS application form (as listed further down in this section) or by contacting your local PATS office (refer to the 'locations and contacts' section on this page). Your GP may also have forms available.
  2. Your GP or medical practitioner needs to fill out the referral details in Part A. You complete all your personal details in Part B. Provide the completed form to your local PATS office.
  3. You need to get the specialist or specialist clinic to fill out the PATS specialist certification form and submit that to your local PATS office within 8 weeks after your specialist appointment. You will need to attach receipts to receive reimbursement.

If you are in the South West, the process is different.

  1. Ask your GP to phone or fax the PATS office to register your claim.
  2. Contact the SW PATS office on 1800 823 131 to complete your registration prior to your appointment.
  3. If approved, you will receive a PATS specialist certification form to take to the specialist.
  4. The specialist will sign this form to confirm your attendance and any further necessary appointments.
  5. Post, fax, email or take the PATS Specialist Certification form to your South West PATS office within eight weeks or your appointment and ensure all necessary receipts are attached.
  6. Payment of any assistance you are entitled to will then be posted (Cheque) or paid by EFT.

South West PATS can be contacted on:

Phone: 1800 823 131 (Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm)
Fax: 9427 9011
South West PATS Office
PO Box 712
Osborne Park BC WA 6916

How long will it take to process my claim?

The time it takes to process a claim varies but payment should be made within 30 days from the date we receive your claim, subject to the correct information and necessary documents (such as your taxation receipts) being received by your local PATS office.

What forms do I need?

To submit a claim you will need the PATS application forms (as listed at the top of this page). These are also available from your local PATS office.

The PATS forms include:

Other forms

When do I need a PATS application form?

If it is the first visit to a specialist or if your circumstances change, you are required to complete a PATS application form.

How long is my PATS application form valid?

Your PATS application is valid for 12 months from the time your referring doctor signs the form. If you visit a new speciality a new PATS application form is required. If your circumstances change and you now require an escort, ask your treating GP or specialist to note this on the PATS application or PATS certification form.

This isn't the first visit to my specialist, so when do I need to complete a new PATS application form?

You don't need a new form until 12 months after your initial appointment date.

After 12 months, you will be required to submit a new PATS application form.


What can PATS reimburse me for?

PATS provides a travel and accommodation subsidy to eligible country residents and their approved escorts (people authorised to travel with you to your specialist appointment to help you). PATS provides flights for persons living more than 16 hours’ drive from the nearest treatment centre, or in cases of medical necessity requested by the referring or treating practitioner.

PATS does not cover the full cost of travel. It is a subsidy only. It is designed to assist with some out-of-pocket expenses associated with travelling for specialist medical services. You will need to keep your receipts so you can claim for these expenses.

If you are eligible, you can claim a subsidy towards the following:

  • private vehicle travel
  • public transport (trains, buses, ferries and taxis)
  • air travel (in special circumstances)
  • accommodation.

In some circumstances we provide financial assistance towards the cost of having an escort/carer support you during your treatment.

How much will I get reimbursed?

PATS is a subsidy only, and will not cover all your expenses.

The accommodation subsidy is:

  • Private home accommodation $20 per night for an eligible applicant or $40 per night for an applicant travelling with an approved escort
  • Commercial accommodation (taxation receipts are required) Up to $60 per night for an eligible applicant or up to $75 per night for an eligible applicant travelling with an approved escort.

The fuel subsidy is 16 cents per kilometre for a private vehicle.

If two or more applicants are travelling in a minibus, or similar group transport vehicle, owned by a community or organisation, the fuel subsidy is 25 cents per kilometre, per vehicle payable to the organisation.

People travelling by coach or rail are eligible for the relevant economy or discounted fare.

Applicants accessing cancer or dialysis treatment who are required to travel between 70 and 100 kilometres are eligible for $20 subsidy.

Contact your local PATS office for more information. Refer to the contact details in the 'locations and contacts' section on this page.

How do I get reimbursed for my accommodation and travel expenses?

You need to get your specialist or specialist clinic to complete the PATS specialist certification form (PDF 201 KB), and return it to your local PATS office within 8 weeks after the appointment date. You will then be reimbursed for your out-of-pocket expenses.

Ask your local PATS office how long it will take to receive your reimbursement.

If I need to travel by air to my specialist appointment will I have to pay for the flight and then seek reimbursement from PATS or does PATS pay for flights before I travel?

Generally, air fares are reimbursed. However, if this is likely to cause financial difficulties, talk to your local PATS office.

I’ve had my application declined. Can I get a review of a PATS decision?

Yes, you can.

You need to write down the reasons why you think there should be a review, including any extra information.

Send a copy of this to the PATS Regional Coordinator of the health services where the initial decision was made.

The PATS Regional Coordinator will consider your complaint or review request against the PATS policy, including the Exceptional Ruling policy.

You may be contacted to provide other information.

The PATS Regional Coordinator will write to you about the outcome of your review within 30 days, or sooner if the matter is urgent.

If you have raised your concerns with the PATS Regional Coordinator and you are still not satisfied, you can ask for a further review of the decision by:

Locations and contacts

View the PATS office locations and contact details.

Perth accommodation options

Below is a list of optional accommodation providers that are close to the Perth metropolitan and some regional hospitals.

It is also suggested that you research accommodation online as many advertise last minute deals with discounted rates. When using commercial accommodation ensure you ask for a full tax invoice and receipt in order to claim your accommodation subsidy.

Note: The WA Country Health Service does not endorse the services provided by these accommodation providers.

Other organisations and support services

There are several other agencies that provide various support services to patients that need to travel for medical treatment, in cooperation with WA Country Health's Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS).

Country Health Connection (Meet-and-Assist service)

Country Health Connection is a support and coordination service for Country Aboriginal people travelling from rural and remote areas to Perth. Country Health Connect can provided transport for PATS patients who are staying at the Perth Aboriginal Hostels. Bookings are to be made through your local PATS Office.

Compliments, Complaints and Feedback

If you are unhappy about a PATS decision you should first approach the health service manager where the PATS Application was lodged.

If you would like further independent assistance with a PATS problem you can contact the Health Consumers' Council or the Office of Health Review or complete the Consumer Concerns/Feedback/Complaint Form.

The Health Consumers' Council is an independent community based organisation that represents health consumers. They can be contacted at 1800 620 780.

The Health and Disability Services Complaints Office is an independent State Government agency established to deal with complaints about health and disability services. They can be contacted by telephone on 1800 813 583.

Interstate Patient Travel Scheme

Patients who need to travel interstate to obtain essential specialist medical treatment not available in WA may be eligible for assistance under the Interstate Patient Transfer Scheme (IPTS).

Department of Veteran Affairs

The Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) offers several forms of travel and accommodation assistance to their Gold and White DVA card holders through the Repatriation Transport Scheme. To discuss eligibility, PATS clerks are to contact the DVA on 1300 550 454. A DVA fact sheet on the Repatriation Transport Scheme is available on the DVA website (external site).

The Cancer Council of WA

The Cancer Council of WA (external site) is a non-government agency which provides a comprehensive range of support, information, resources and services including accommodation.

More information

Contact your local PATS office. Refer to details in the 'locations and contacts' section above.


If I want to provide feedback on PATS, how do I do this?

  1. Contact your local health service or PATS office: they will provide you with information on how to give feedback directly to the health service. The health service has to record and respond to all feedback that is received.
  2. Alternatively, the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (external site) can help you resolve any complaints you may have, just call the Toll Free number 1800 081 583.
  3. If you would like advocacy and support with the complaint process you can contact the Health Consumers' Council (external site) on 1800 620 780. The Health Consumers' Council is an independent community-based organisation that represents health consumers.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.