Councillors Question Cost Of NHS Medical Travel
The issue was brought up during a discussion on medical travel at the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Healthwatch director, Jane Hurd, said that while patients receive a £5 concessionary fare on Skybus, they still have to pay considerable amounts to get from Land’s End to Treliske Hospital.
And that’s even worse for off-islanders, who often need to book a special boat to get them to St Mary’s.
Manager for Adult Social Services, Gareth Peters, said the situation was worse for St Martin’s residents recently when one of the medical travel providers decided they didn’t want to renew their contract.
The Council had to step in to organise alternatives.
But Cllr Christine Savill asked why the authority had to do this when it was the responsibility of the NHS to provide travel to medial appointments.
Nick Masters from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Travel Office also briefed members on proposed changes to their travel policy.
They’ve tried to clear up some of the confusion over how some patients travel and when the NHS will pay for medical escorts – usually relatives who accompany sick or vulnerable patients.
Previously, the policy said that people weighing over 15 stone, who had trouble boarding a plane, either had to go by sea or wait until they were able to take a flight.
Nick said that was clearly impractical and those patients would now be offered a stretcher transfer on a charter flight.
But there’s still work to do on when escorts can claim a reduced fair.
Jane Hurd said there had been a couple of cases recently when doctors in Scilly had asked a relative to accompany a sick patient, but that person then had to find their own way back.
She said that was obviously a problem. “If someone is asked to go, they don’t like to say no” said Jane, “but it’s grossly unfair to expect them to foot a £100 bill to get back to the islands.”
Nick said he would investigate this with the local medical team and the Kernow Commissioning Group.