A new scheme to reduce the cost of travel to the mainland for patients attending NHS funded hospital appointments starts on 21st June. This has been developed by Wightlink in association with NHS Isle of Wight and applies to cars and foot passengers. It will provide patients and one person travelling with them with a 50 per cent discount on travel between Fishbourne and Portsmouth. Ryde and Portsmouth and Yarmouth and Lymington. Patients who attend around 4,000 appointments at Portsmouth Hospitals each year will benefit from the scheme as well as some who use the Yarmouth to Lymington Route for hospitals in Southampton.
Russell Kew, Wightlink Chief Executive said: “We recognise that we are an important lifeline for Islanders. When someone is ill the last thing they want to think about is whether they can afford the cost of the ferry to a mainland hospital. We’re pleased to be able to offer this discount to Islanders as part of our contribution to Island life and the health and wellbeing of Islanders.”
The 50 per cent discount fare will apply on the following public tariffs:
- Super Saver
- IW Resident fares
- Foot passengers
The hospital appointment card or letter will need to be presented on the day of travel for tickets purchased in advance or at the ticket office.
Mr Kew continued: “To ensure that the scheme meets the needs of patients who sometimes do not want to travel alone the discount also applies to the person travelling with the patient. For situations where the patient is a child, both parents will be able to travel under the discount scheme. We’re keen to see how this works in practice; if it is a success we hope that we can extend it.”
Individuals making bookings under the scheme will need to complete a form (downloadable from both the Wightlink and NHS websites) providing Wightlink with simple information about the patient. Wightlink will share this detail with NHS Isle of Wight on a sample basis to audit the scheme and guard against fraudulent use. At present bookings cannot be made on line. A full list of terms and conditions will be available online.
Where an appointment is arranged at short notice and an appointment card or letter has not been issued a refund will be available retrospectively once proof of appointment is obtained from the hospital and presented to Wightlink within 30 days.
“We have worked with Wightlink over recent weeks to develop this scheme;” says Mark Price Director of Corporate Affairs at NHS Isle of Wight. Continuing Mark said: “Our own Patient Council have provided a patient perspective which has helped to shape the final arrangements. We are grateful to Wightlink for working closely with us and demonstrating a strong commitment to developing the scheme. We know, particularly for those patients who have to visit the mainland for a series of hospital appointments, that the cost can be a source of concern on top of dealing with the illness and treatment. This is certainly a welcome development which will benefit many patients and their families on the Island.”
Welcoming the scheme Andrew Turner MP said: “I congratulate Wightlink and NHS Isle of Wight on this scheme which I know has taken some hard work to achieve. Wightlink in their evidence to the OFT Inquiry recognised that they are a lifeline for Islanders. The development of this scheme recognises the importance of that lifeline to patients and their carers. I hope that progress can now be made to develop discount schemes for patients with other cross Solent services.”
Further information can be found at www.wightlink.co.uk/healthcarediscount