Douglas patients getting dudded on unpaid travel claims


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Port Douglas residents forced to drive to Cairns for specialist treatment may be entitled to money without realising it. IMAGE: Supplied.

A SIGNIFICANT backlog of patient travel claims – many dating back to 2015 – has bogged down a system resulting in many patients in this region waiting anxiously for money they are reliant on.

And Mossman Hospital’s Patient Travel Office says there are in excess of 800 outstanding claims and cannot advise when patients can expect to be reimbursed.

The Patient Travel Scheme is available to patients who live in rural and remote areas, and have to travel more than 50km for specialist medical services that are not available locally.

And in a more local perspective, those who live in Port Douglas, for example, are also eligible if they are required to travel to Cairns for their treatment. There are travel and accommodation subsidies for these patients, along with certain conditions.

The scheme is the responsibility of the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service and they provided Newsport with the following statement:

“The Health Service can confirm that there is a backlog of patient travel claims for processing.

“No staff reduction has contributed to this situation. Additional resources have been deployed to the Patient

Travel Office and the backlog of claims will be cleared within the next three weeks,” said Ms Judith Nelmes, A/Divisional Director Rural and Health Support Services, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service.

As one of the more than 800 claimants, I empathise with my fellow patients. My claims have been in the system for a number of months and as we approach the Christmas/New Year period, I question whether the backlog will be cleared as advised.

To learn more check out the Queensland Government website.