"Broome PATS"

About: Patient Assisted Travel Scheme - WACHS Kimberley

(as a parent/guardian),

I am writing to you to express my concern regarding the current approach for approval of Patient Assistant Travel Scheme (PATS), in particular for my child.  

 

Over the years I have taken my child to numerous medical appointments, but was let down by the multidisciplinary care provided. Upon moving to the Kimberley I liaised with my child’s teachers, in particular the Deputy Principal who supported me to move forward and seek an outcome for my child once again. My child attended Kimberley Medical Practice in Broome and a referral to a Paediatrician at Broome Hospital was established. After a concerning event where my child wrote a letter stating they wished they weren't alive and expressing other behaviours, I immediately communicated with our GP. Our GP suggested PATCHES (The PATCHES model addresses a service gap) and called PATCHES to confirm the best way of commencing this avenue, we were offered an appointment a couple of weeks later at their Perth Clinic.

 

I submitted a request for PATS a week before the scheduled appointment. After not receiving a response I contacted PATS numerous times and spoke to a staff member, with no avail. This staff member explained that she will make contact with myself to advise whether or not travel would be approved for my child and myself. The day prior to the expected departure date for travel, I still had no response from PATS. I once again made contact and finally was notified that travel through PATS was not approved. Flight costs for Broome range from $500 to $1000 per person per sector (at that particular time of year). At that stage it was going to cost $2800 for my child and I to attend Perth on the dates required. Numerous flights became sold out after making the decision to self fund the airfares and prices were going up, so we had to extend our stay just to get lower airfare prices. Without financial support to pay for these flights from family my child would of not have received such high quality care from the service PATCHES provided due to the doctor's decision to not approve PATS even though this doctor has never evaluated or seen my child. In our view, the result of the application process for PATS failed to meet minimum standards of safety and quality in healthcare. The cost of the return airfare for my child and I was $1923.44. Flights would have been considerably cheaper if communication with PATS was improved.

 

I am very concerned for not only my child, but also other children that live in remote regions such as the Kimberley being denied access to high quality child development, disability and early intervention services. The current status of my child's mental health caused by ASD (autism spectrum disorder) is extremely concerning. Denying funded travel for a child in my child's situation to access such high quality service that PATCHES offers is a detriment to my child's health and I believe is a service that Broome Hospital is unable to meet in such a time frame. 

A complaint was put though and an a request for the refund of airfares not only by myself but also from the head Pediatrician at PATCHES but we are yet to hear any response.

If nothing is resolved by the end of 2017 we will be taking action further. I believe a refund of airfares needs to be provided. In my opinion Broome Hospital is unable to offer continuous MDT (multidisciplinary team) care that a child with ASD  requires.

Responses

Response from David Gaskell, Regional Medical Director, Medical, WA Country Health Service

picture of David Gaskell

Dear PATS Refund,

I was very concerned to read your story and I am sorry that your experience with our PATS service has been frustrating and distressing.

I am currently conducting an investigation into the transport and communication issues you have raised. I will get back to you to let you know what we have learnt.

If you would like to contact me to discuss your story please feel free to call me on 08 9195 2450.

Once again, I am very sorry to hear about your PATS experience.

Very best wishes

David

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Response from Bec Smith, Regional Director, WACHS - Kimberley

picture of Bec Smith

Dear PATS Refund,

Thank you for taking the time to tell us your story regarding the approval process for PATS for your child to attend a private paediatric ASD service in Perth. It is regretful that you were not informed sooner regarding the inability to support the PATS request.

WACHS Kimberley employs a team of five consultant paediatricians as well as two paediatric registrars, all based in Broome, who provide expert medical and developmental services at more than twenty sites across the Kimberley region. The paediatric service works closely with the three regional allied health teams, as well as with the Department of Communities (Disabilities), to provide a high standard of multidisciplinary care to children who are affected by a range of conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorders. These teams endeavour to see all referrals in an appropriate timeframe, with prioritisation based on information provided in a GP referral and the GP providing the team with updated information whenever a client’s condition changes while they are awaiting an assessment.

We appreciate it was disappointing that your child was not seen locally and in the timeframe you would have wished, and we fully appreciate the financial burden that comes with the choice to access a private health service provider in the city. Given the services in the Region there is confidence that had your child been seen by the WACHS Kimberley paediatric service, your child would have received at least the same standard of paediatric care as is provided in metropolitan WA.

If you would like to meet with me to discuss this in more detail then please do not hesitate to call me and a senior medical lead via the WACHS Kimberley Executive Assistant on 08 9195 2450 to make an appointment.

Kind regards

Bec Smith

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