Highlands and Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant claims the Cabinet Secretary for Health is “sleeping at the wheel” after he announces that the NHS Patient Travel Reimbursement Scheme has been delayed further.
Last month Rhoda Grant MSP submitted a Written Question asking when will the NHS patient travel reimbursement scheme be reviewed following a delay due to coronavirus pandemic.
The Cabinet Secretary for Health has now answered this question stating that the review: “regrettably, has been delayed due to prioritisation of our ongoing response to Covid and remobilisation of services.”
He also states that this is a substantial exercise for the Scottish Government and NHS Boards to undertake.
Rhoda Grant MSP says:
“This policy and reimbursement rates have been out-of-date for well over a decade, but despite the cost of living crisis it is not a priority for the Scottish Government.
“The Cabinet Secretary is sleeping at the wheel and clearly does not understand the importance of this review for our most rural communities here in the Highlands and Islands.
“In this cost-of-living crisis I’m fearful that people, who require to travel are choosing not to attend healthcare appointments because they can’t afford it.
“What is laughable is that it was our Scottish Government who centralised the healthcare services in the first place.
“It is their responsibility to ensure that patients are reimbursed fairly.
“I will be continue to put pressure on the Scottish Government and urge the Cabinet Secretary for Health to look again at this decision because this review should have been carried out well before the pandemic hit.”
The Scottish Government previously revealed to the MSP that the NHS Patient Travel Reimbursement Scheme was going to be reviewed but that review was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, there has been no indication of when the review will begin.
In the NHS Highland region, under the Highlands and Islands Patient Travel Scheme, the reimbursement rate is 17p per mile.
For example, this means that means that a Thurso patient driving by motor vehicle to a Raigmore Hospital appointment (approx 220 miles return) is going to be reimbursed less than £25 total.
Additionally, an overnight stay in B&B accommodation is set to a maximum of £50 per night for the patient all year round including the busy summer period.
Family/friends will receive £10 per night.
The Scottish Government set overall guidance on Patient Travel Reimbursement however disbursements are made by health boards in accordance with their own eligibility policies.