"Lack of follow-up contact about financial assistance"

About: Patient Assisted Travel Scheme - WACHS Pilbara

(as a carer),

Initial claim was lodged in March 2020 to assist with fuel consumption from Port Hedland to Perth to attend Pre Admission, Blood tests, Pre-op, Surgery and Post-op appointments with inclusive dates from April to May. Unfortunately, all elective surgery was postponed due to COVID-19 two days later and I contacted PATS to advise them, at this time I was advised that the initial PATS Referral and Specialist form would be left in the system and to contact again when the new surgery date was confirmed.

We received this information and it was sent via email in July and we received confirmation from PATS by email on the same day to say that someone would contact in 5 business days. Almost two weeks later I noticed that this time had come and gone and so I contacted by phone only to find out that the original GP referral had run out and was asked if I could forward this. The new referral had already been obtained as this was also required by the Surgeon and so a PDF copy was forwarded by email immediately that day and again a confirmation email was received on the same day saying it was received and someone would contact in 5 business days.

A few days ago, I noticed that again we had not been contacted and so I called again and was asked what the new surgery date was and where. At this point, I lost my temper as we are set to take off for the drive to Perth with one business day left to go and I am no closer to getting financial assistance with fuel costs. At this point, I did what I rarely do and in my annoyance displayed my dissatisfaction verbally at the poor person on the other end of the phone to the point of having them in tears and them having to get someone else to assist me.

I did give my apologies for losing my temper but I feel this situation should never get to this point and in my opinion, WACHS has a responsibility to employ enough staff to deal with the large amount of people living in WA country areas who require medical travel assistance. I will give my apologies again to the staff member that I vented my anger and annoyance at and thank them and the other assistant who eventually progressed our claim.


Response from Wendy Hooper, A/Operations Manager, East Pilbara, WACHS Pilbara last week
Wendy Hooper
A/Operations Manager, East Pilbara,
WACHS Pilbara
Submitted on 27/07/2020 at 12:18
Published on Care Opinion at 12:23

Dear lyraqc78,

Thank you for sharing your story with us about your recent experiences with the Pilbara Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) team.

I am sorry to hear that you experienced communication difficulties and delayed responses from our service. I fully appreciate your frustration and the emotions this may have evoked. We also appreciate that you have apologised.

In order for me to better understand what transpired and to enable me to investigate your experience more fully, I would encourage you to contact me. I am the Acting Operations Manager for the East Pilbara which includes PATS. If you are happy to do so, I would welcome a phone call or an email from you. My phone number is 9174 1038 and my email is Wendy.Hooper@health.wa.gov.au

We genuinely appreciate feedback from our patients and their families and carers. This helps us to understand where we can improve our service and similarly where we may be doing well – thank you for reaching out to us.

I wish you a speedy recovery from your surgery.

Kind regards,

Wendy Hooper

A/Operations Manager
WA Country Health Service, East Pilbara

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