Demand reversal of NHS Shetland travel policy
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NHS Shetland published a press release (http://www.shb.scot.nhs.uk/news/documents/20170314-PatientTravelChanges.pdf the results of which mean that Shetland Isles' residents no longer have the automatic option to fly to Aberdeen for medical treatment.
Many people cannot:
- Travel on the ferry due to sea sickness/vertigo/other health reasons;
- Take the additional time off work as a consequence of two 12 hour ferry crossings;
- Afford to pay in advance for the difference in cost between flight ticket and ferry ticket;
- Organise childcare cover;
- Organise additional cover if a carer;
- Be able to get to the ferry terminal for a 5.00pm sailing if attending an afternoon clinic.
We believe that the steps taken by NHS Shetland by curtailing air travel amount to discriminating against people on their medical/health needs and therefore goes against the spirit of the Patients Charter (see 2011 Act) and HITS (Highlands & Islands Travel Scheme). No public consultation has taken place. Furthermore, Loganair have not been consulted in order to ascertain if a more favourable air fare could be negotiated. It is wrong that a child is deemed okay to have a flight yet an 85 year old pensioner with sight and mobility problems would not immediately be granted the same status and would have to jump through hoops by being further assessed in order to be able to fly.
We, the undersigned, call for an immediate suspension of the decision to curtail air travel for NHS Shetland patients. Remember, the original NHS ethos was that healthcare should be available at the point of need!
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