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National Travel Assistance (NTA) Scheme

National Travel Assistance (NTA) Scheme

It's a good idea to find out what help you can get to get to your cancer treatments and cancer appointments.

Talk to your treatment team about the National Travel Assistance Scheme if you need to travel long distances for treatment.

The Cancer Society has been monitoring people’s experience and use of the National Travel Assistance (NTA) scheme across the country over a number of years now. We have observed that the criteria used to assess eligibility for the NTA assistance is not fit-for-purpose and is not easy to get.

The Cancer Society has raised this issue with the Ministry of Health multiple times and contributed to the NTA review being finalised in 2019. However, there has been no change of the scheme and the CS is frustrated that the process is moving slowly.

People are experiencing the following

 

  • Accommodation/travel assistance will only be granted under specific criteria that consider distance and frequency of travel that is confusing and limiting. For example it does not take into account where there are limited public transport options (for example, Wairarapa-Wellington/ Queenstown to Dunstan) or limited income and additional health needs of the applicant.
  • The scheme is designed to assist with cost of transport to treatment and accommodation during treatment. However, people in extremely difficult financial situations struggle to cover their expenses, mainly because reimbursement payments are retrospective.
  • The eligibility criteria are interpreted differently by DHB travel coordinators that result in an inconsistent application across the country
  • People don’t know about it and rely on their specialists or health service to help them access it.
  • It’s onerous to complete the claims and some people just give up applying for it.
  • Hospital parking isn’t covered.

We want everyone to be able to get to treatment easier

 

  • People going through a difficult time during their treatment and they should not have to jump hurdles just to get to that treatment.
  • We want travel assistance changes to improve equity and outcomes for people with chronic conditions (cancers). We want the NTA scheme to be easier to use and get.
  • We want to see a positive change in the NTA criteria, eligibility, transparency, and application over the country. In particular, we want to see: an increase in the assistance threshold (accommodation, km, parking, eligibility criteria); as an example, the first specialist appointment should count as a trip under NTA if it leads to treatment & planned admissions under specialist direction via Emergency department should be measured in the total number of appts attended under NTA.
  • Making the availability of this assistance widely known.
  • Setting up a more accessible, online, nationally consistent application system.
  • Making assistance timely – before, not after treatment.