State KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said his electorate office had been inundated with queries and complaints following a shake-up to the local Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS), which is operated out of the Charters Towers Hospital.
Amongst the concerns raised are the reduction in the PTSS’s office operating hours, the introduction of four separate forms for patients to fill out per appointment as well as, in some isolated cases, lengthy payment delays of upto months at a time.
The local PTSS system – which is operated by the Townsville Hospital and Health Service – has also become electronic as part of the changes, which Mr Katter said was welcome news for some.
The Traeger MP said concerns had been expressed by patients living in more remote locations, including Richmond and Hughenden, signalling the issues were not isolated to the Charters Towers area.
“Like all process upheavals, there can be a teething phase that require problems to be ironed out as they arise,” he said.
“I have been made aware of a number of issues, the most concerning of which are payment delays of more than three months and also of elderly and unwell people being caught out when trying to submit forms as they were not informed of the changes that were coming in ahead of time.
“The information that has been fed back to my office is that most people are adjusting to the changes, which is good, and I will continue to monitor how things play out to ensure everyone is being treated fairly and getting the assistance they should.
Mr Katter said, in response to the tighter opening hours, all necessary PTSS forms were able to be picked up in a hard copy from his electorate office in the Stock Exchange Arcade.
They are also available online at: www.qld.gov.au/health/services/travel/subsidies
He said his main message to community members was to ensure they accessed the PTSS wherever they could, as it was an essential service they are entitled too.
“In a perfect world, we would have had many of the services people are having to travel for right here on out doorstep in Charters Towers but unfortunately that is not the case,” he said.
“We should not have to accept subpar health care in the bush, and people should also not put their medical issues on the backburner because of any hassles with time and the cost of having to travel to Townsville or elsewhere for appointments.
“Please ensure you access the PTSS wherever you can – if you are confused or concerned you are also able to get in touch with my office for help.”
Mr Katter said the longest acceptable wait time for payment, provided all necessary forms had been submitted and accepted, was 30 business days, or six weeks.
He encouraged anyone waiting longer for payment to contact his office.