26th March 2017

WATCH: Patients to travel on ferry for ARI appointments

11 comments, , by , in Headlines, News

Patients travelling to Aberdeen will be asked to take the ferry for appointments after NHS Shetland agreed this morning to make it the “default” option in a bid to cut costs.

Members of the health board voted in favour of using the NorthLink service which could save £1 million per year.

Specific categories” of patients, will continue to travel by plane, where there is an agreed clinical need.

Health bosses also agreed this morning that patients will be able to book their own travel, with use of the ADS discount, if they prefer to travel by plane.

They will then be given a reimbursement up to the value of their ferry cost from the health board.

About 30 per cent of patient travel costs are spent on escorts.

The meeting heard that the latest proposal would mean more patients being able to travel with an escort as a cabin would be booked for the journey.

According to the report: “This option would affect all trips to Aberdeen and would not be limited to individuals who may be eligible for an escort.

Where the ferry was unable to provide a cabin the board would offer the patient a flight as currently arranged.

Since the board would already be booking a cabin for the patient, they would be able to take an escort with them at limited extra cost.”

NHS Shetland is looking to bring in the change by 1st of April and trial it initially for a period of 12 months.

It comes as the target aims to make savings of about £4.7 million with the patient travel budget accounting for £2.8 million of its spending.

After a lengthy discussion, the proposal went to a vote, with six-four in favour of the plans.

SIC convener Malcolm Bell was among the members who voted against the proposal.

He said it was important to tackle the root of the problem, rather than treat “the symptoms” and called for further measures to cut patient travel costs.

More in Friday’s Shetland Times

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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11 comments

  1. Gerald Leask

    I was in Aberdeen for am MRI scan not long ago and offered to go on the boat and they could book a single berth in four berth cabin at 3/4 saving on trip but they would not do this .I am sure some people feeling very ill would need a cabin just for them but i would think some would take the single berth and would have saved over £150 on one trip .

    Reply
  2. david march

    Fourteen hours by ferry is a long time without food so will NHS Shetland issue meal vouchers to patients and designated escorts going to ARI under the new system and at what costs?

    Secondly with the loss of NHS revenue will Loganair have to consider raising fares for other air passengers to meet their fixed costs?

    Reply
  3. Johan Adamson

    My first thought (until I realised that children are excluded) was that we just wouldnt be able to go to our appointment next week. So denying my child access to vital healthcare.

    It must also encourage depopulation because if you had something where you regularly had to go away to Aberdeen, you must conclude that actually you would be better off not living on an island. Maybe the government should realise that they should subsidise this like they used to, as it will be cheaper to keep us in the isles than add to have us all move. Loganair/ Flybe should also realise that they were supposed to be giving cheaper fares to the NHS. Maybe the NHS flights are based on the same fictitious price the compassionate fares are based on, the price no one pays, about £800 each way for a fully flexible flight.

    Reply
  4. Jonathan Hinkles

    Dear Mrs Adamson – I’m not sure if your last comment is intended to be flippant, but fully flexible one-way flights are nothing like the figure you have quoted, and NHS nationally benefits from a bulk-buying deal with Loganair which provides a substantial discount from the public selling price. In the meantime, I wish you well for your family’s upcoming journey and appointment. Jonathan Hinkles – Managing Director – Loganair

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      Apologies, i was remembering the figure from this comment I made on the compassionate fares:

      March 31st, 2016 8:59
      I had call to use this [compassionate fares]. Quite an easy process, but I needed a death certificate to claim (afterwards). If the full fares had been cheaper then the 50% fare would obviously be cheaper too. I would have paid almost £800 for a family of 4 to Orkney had the discount not been available, as it was it was almost £400 as it was, on this fare. Still a bit steep for an approx 30 minute flight, so some improvement in the overall costs of flights is needed, its no wonder we dont get so many tourists. You can also claim ADS on the fares if you are in the scheme, so you get another % off (would have been just over £300 I think).

      So it was £800 for a family of 4 return to Orkney. Not sure what the full fare to Aberdeen is.

      Reply
    • Alistair Inkster

      Does Shetland health board qualify for this nationally agreed price?

      Reply
    • S V Jolly

      NHS Shetland report states: “The current flexible NHS ticket used for air travel is currently £362 for a return flight.”

      Could you clarify if you negotiated this with NHS Scotland or NHS Shetland?

      Reply
  5. Rosemary Duncan

    I think it is a great idea – living on Fetlar if you go by plane it means a night in B&B so you lose the best of 2 days before you go as well costly. You can leave your car at North Link and it is very nice to have a cabin allotted to you. Weather dictates both air and boat travel but that’s Shetland!

    Reply
  6. Robert Anderson

    I feel sorry for NHS Shetland, damned if they do, damned if they don’t, either way they don’t have the money to do it all. The real issue here is that public services are being allowed to suffer in favour of the low tax rates enjoyed by multi-nationals who siphon large amounts out of the country. What has Tavish done to ensure Boots, Starbucks, Amazon and Google actually pay some tax in the country?

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      Not just that but many people are forced into self employment to work, or low paid or zero hours contracts, reducing the tax and NICs paid. The government know tax take has reduced which is why they tried to increase NICs the other week. We need to get people into better paid full time work.

      There was a story on the news about the care system in England and it is falling apart because it is so poorly paid. How come councils are allowed to contract to companies who pay less than council terms and conditions? What happened to making sure that the contractor’s pay scales and conditions were the same as the councils? Of course then the contract would not be cheaper.

      Reply
      • Robert Anderson

        Aye and look at George ‘6jobs’ Osborne…..£650,000 a year for having lunch once a week somewhere in London…….and editor of evening standard (£200,000 /yr) to boot. Looks like he’s not giving his constituency a fair deal……but who cares if the public services go down the drain, will suit him and him private big company buddies…..sure his MP salary is just pocket change…. probably just setting up the NHS to fail then in desperation the public will agree to anything…. its stealth privatisation. Come on Tavish where’s your voice? Big businesses should play fair on tax

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