A scheme, providing free cross-Solent travel for certain NHS patients, is under review – with the Isle of Wight Council saying it “must look at whether it can continue to fund it.”
The Cross-Solent Travel Scheme is non-means tested and provides financial support to patients travelling to the mainland for treatments including chemotherapy, radiotherapy or renal dialysis.
The scheme is owned and administered by the Isle of Wight NHS Trust but since 2006, when the NHS ceased its funding, the council has supported residents by picking up the annual bill.
However, the local authority says the scheme costs them around £60,000 a year and ‘in light of the savings it needs to make’ – the initiative’s future must be considered.
Councillor Clare Mosdell, Cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said:
“We have no legal duty to fund it and in challenging times, we feel we should look at protcting the frontline services we are legally obliged to fund such as adult social care or mental health services.
“However, it’s really important to us that we listen to the views of Islanders to inform any decisions about the future funding of this scheme.”
Under a separate initiative, people on a low income or receiving certain benefits can have their travel costs reimbursed through the Healthcare Travel Cost Scheme (HTCS).
Ferry operators also offer discounts to those who are going to the mainland to receive medical treatment.
Islanders are now being urged to give their views on the council-led scheme’s future.
A consultation will run until 23 December 2018. You can take part here.