5 August, 2022
Changes coming to isolated patients’ travel support scheme
By Sharon Bonthuys
If you travel to Dubbo or beyond to attend specialist
medical treatment, do you access the NSW government’s
Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation
Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS)?
This scheme reimburses patients in regional and
rural areas who are required to travel long distances to
access specialist healthcare.
The Gilgandra Weekly has heard that some shire
patients are reluctant to access the scheme because it is
deemed “too hard” to apply, and is “too limited” in what
services are covered.
We have also heard that the scheme is not well
known in the community.
The IPTAAS program is expanding next month and
it may be worth reconsidering by patients not currently
using the scheme.
From August 2022, IPTAAS will provide coverage
for some treatments that are not currently covered and
will also increase the subsidies payable for accommodation
and travel of 200km or more per week.
“The NSW Government recently announced a
$149.5 million dollar expansion of IPTAAS as part of
the 2022-23 NSW Budget,” said a spokesperson for the
Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD).
“As part of this investment, patients seeking [support
for travel to] non-commercial clinical trials, high risk
foot clinics, highly specialised and publicly funded dental
health clinics and ocularists will be eligible for assistance
for the first time while accommodation and travel
subsidies are being increased,” the spokesperson said.
In addition, NSW Health is streamlining some of the
forms and application processes to make it easier for
patients to make claims. This involves testing changes
with consumers, the spokesperson said.
“There will be further development work this year to
improve these processes in collaboration with consumers
and stakeholders and also promotion of the
online claiming process that results in faster payments
to patients,” the spokesperson said.
From August 2022, the following will apply in
• Accommodation subsidies will be paid at a rate of:
• $40 per night if you are staying with family or
friends or in Airbnb (up from $20 per night for singles
or $40 per night with an escort).
• $75 per night if you are staying in not-for-profit or
commercial accommodation for the first seven nights
(up from $43 per night), and $120 per night from day
eight onwards (up from $65 per night NFP and $105 for
• The private vehicle subsidy rate will increase to 40
cents per kilometre (up from 22 cents)
• Patients attending high-risk foot clinics, non-commercial
clinical trials, highly specialised publicly funded
oral health clinics in NSW and ocularists will be eligible
For those who struggle to understand what forms
need to be completed to access the scheme, assistance is
available over the phone or in person at Dubbo Base
Referrals from your treating doctor are required to
access IPTAAS and are valid for 24 months.
if you need to travel multiple times for treatment over a
period of time, the doctor’s referral lasts for 24 months.
Should you need to travel by air to access specialist
medical treatment, this can be requested by your doctor
who then seeks an “endorsement code” from IPTAAS.
Travel by public transport is also covered under the
One reason why some patients do not access the
IPTAAS system is because they cannot afford the
upfront cost of travelling to and staying in Dubbo or
beyond for treatment.
The IPTAAS website states:
“Please do not delay travel for appointments or treatment. If you are experiencing financial hardship, contact us on 1800 478 227 to discuss your situation.”
Bulk billing of accommodation is available; patients
will need to speak to IPTAAS staff about this.
Given the multitude of IPTAAS forms that are currently
available online and from health facilities in
WNSWLHD, it is strongly recommended that patients
contact IPTAAS by phone and speak to the scheme’s
staff members who are available to provide advice and
guidance to patients.
Alternatively, if you are in Dubbo you can visit the
IPTAAS team in person at Dubbo Base Hospital.
Look for the IPTAAS signs or ask hospital administration for directions to the right counter.