This QPP blog continues a theme of providing information on ‘What’s Out There’. To date we have talked about ways to access or seek assistance for mental health, finances and dental care. This month the topic relates to travel for accessing treatment and care.
Evidence demonstrates the benefits of HIV treatment and care to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for people living with HIV. Transport is an important component of accessing HIV clinical appointments but there may be little consideration for how patients will get to appointments arranged.
In Brisbane individuals often have a number of choices for HIV specialist care that may be accessible through private or public transport including through Sexual Health & HIV Services, Hospital specialist outpatient clinics, or through Medical Practitioners accredited to prescribe S100 HIV medicines. In regional and remote areas choices are often more restricted, and accessing HIV treatment and care appointments may involve time and cost consuming travel.
Regardless of where you live and access HIV care appointments; the HIV Futures Seven 2013 report on the Health and Wellbeing of HIV Positive People in Australia showed that 33.5% of the 924 people living with HIV who completed the survey did find the cost of transport a little difficult and 18.8% found the cost very difficult (http://www.acon.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/HIV-Futures-7-report-2013.pdf).
Amongst other areas; QPP is committed to assisting the achievement of HIV treatment and prevention targets which include individuals being able to access HIV treatment and care. Recent studies demonstrate more and more evidence supporting the benefits of HIV treatment including less illness, fewer adverse events (START study) and prevention of transmission (PARTNER study) so from an access perspective it is important that transport is considered.
If financial pressures or travel/transport difficulties are impacting access to HIV treatment and care, QPP Program Staff are available to discuss sustainable solutions which could include options such as:
- Community transport services
- Shared care arrangements between HIV specialist and GP
- Financial assistance through Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme or Taxi Subsidy Schemes as below.
Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS) – travel assistance
If you live in rural and remote areas, and have to travel to access essential specialist health services (e.g. HIV specialist) that are not available within 50km of your nearest public hospital, you may be eligible for the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS) to help with travel costs. Eligibility includes Queensland residency and essential specialist medical service is recommended as necessary by a medical practitioner (Note-PTSS is not intended to support choice of specialists).
The PTSS application form and further details can be obtained from your local hospital or via the Queensland Health website at http://www.health.qld.gov.au/ptss. Your HIV specialist clinic may also have PTSS application forms or QPP can assist with providing the forms and information and application processes which can vary depending on where you live and where you access HIV specialist services.
Note: PTSS may also be available (conditions apply) to cover the cost of accommodation if your specialist appointments/treatment and travel times necessitate an overnight stay.
This scheme subsidises taxi travel—half of the total fare, up to a maximum of $25 per trip—for people with severe disabilities (strict eligibility guidelines apply with applications involving confirmation by a Medical Professional). Membership lasts for a maximum of 5 years. For individuals with a temporary disability, membership could be from 6 to 12 months.
To be eligible for the Taxi Subsidy Scheme the individual applying must be a permanent resident of Queensland and able to fully meet at least 1 of the 6 eligibility criteria listed below:
- Physical disability requiring dependence on a wheelchair for all mobility outside the home.
- Severe ambulatory problem that cannot functionally be improved and restricts walking to an extremely limited distance.
- Total loss of vision or severe visual impairment (both eyes).
- Severe and uncontrollable epilepsy with seizures involving loss of consciousness.
- Intellectual impairment or dementia resulting in the need to be accompanied by another person at all times for travel on public transport.
- Severe emotional and/or behaviour disorders with a level of disorganisation resulting in the need to be accompanied by another person at all times for travel on public transport.
Taxi Subsidy Scheme application forms and further details can be obtained through calling the Department of Transport and Main Roads on 1300 134 755 or via the Queensland Government website https://www.qld.gov.au/disability/out-and-about/taxi-subsidy/.
REMEMBER: Please speak with QPP program staff if you are experiencing barriers with accessing support to manage your HIV treatment and care.