Healthwatch Isles of Scilly has provided an update on its challenges to elements of the new Non Emergency Patient Transport Policy.
NHS Kernow published the policy in August, removing the subsidy for transport between Land's End and Penzance, and restricting flights to Land's End only.
In its recent progress report, Healthwatch said that it has asked for a facility to allow patients to pay the difference to fly elsewhere "and this is being looked into".
It continued: "In the other key area of the consultation, there was no change, i.e. there is no requirement to travel by sea for non-day trips. However, concerns had been raised since June about funded travel for unplanned treatment, e.g. urgent X-ray or attendance at urgent treatment clinics.
"We pursued this at the Medical Travel and Transport Group and every other opportunity, but NHS Kernow has confirmed that there is no funding for urgent (non-emergency) travel. We continue to challenge this and have now referred the matter to the Council’s Scrutiny Committee."
Transport was previously available for escorts of pregnant women attending a 20-week scan, and escorts of patients attending a ‘two week wait’ appointment where an initial diagnosis would be discussed. This is now only funded for people on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits, as set out in the Health Care Travel Costs Scheme.
Healthwatch has also referred this matter to the Scrutiny Committee, saying that it does not believe it is fair to "effectively make this means tested".
Elsewhere, the organisation has received confirmation that seasonal staff who are registered at the Health Centre will be eligible for funded travel. It was also confirmed that Isles of Scilly residents are eligible for travel to and from the mainland for attendance of planned appointments.
"However, for any NHS funded onward travel to the hospital regardless of frequency, patients will be required to meet the medical or financial eligibility criteria."
The removal of funded transport from some patients who make frequent journey is also being reconsidered
You can read Healthwatch's letters to NHS Kernow, setting out its position, on its website; or ask for copies from the office at Porthcressa.
Healthwatch Isles of Scilly is holding its AGM at the Church Garden Pavilion tomorrow at 12.15pm. Everyone is welcome.