MP Bob Seely has asked the government to better fund patient transport to mainland health services after telling a parliamentary debate the Isle of Wight is unfairly treated and sick residents are paying too much.
Bob secured the debate on healthcare on English islands today and told MPs:
“Why is the Isle of Wight the only UK island, separated by sea, without NHS-subsidised travel. I believe that is deeply unfair to my constituents.
He explained NHS regulations allow any resident of the Isles of Scilly to pay a maximum of £5 for their travel costs, even if they are not entitled to payment in full of NHS travel expenses because they are on a low income.
“I am delighted that residents of the Isles of Scilly benefit from such an arrangement, but why is it not available to my constituents as well?” Bob asked.
“Although some on the Isle of Wight meet the narrow definition of being on a low income and would benefit from having such costs met, many other residents have to regularly access healthcare treatment on the mainland—such as those with prostate cancer, who may need 40 trips—and face difficulty in affording the associated and oft repeated costs.
“I believe it is inequitable and unfair for one set of English islands to enjoy such a benefit when others do not. It is yet another example of the Isle of Wight’s not being treated fairly.”
He explained that ferry operators did offer discounts for those who need mainland treatment but he asked the health minister, Stephen Barclay, to amend the 2003 regulations to extend the existing Isles of Scilly scheme to the Island.
Bob also told the debate the Isle of Wight is underfunded in health provision by between £5 million to £8 million and it has significant extra costs in providing services like A&E that other similar populations sizes would not have.
He also made it clear that Islanders wanted to keep as many health services on the Island as possible and Bob said he supported this approach.
In response, the Minister said he would meet with Bob to discuss patient transport costs and organise a meeting for him with NHS England to looking a funding for the Island.