It is very helpful that Highland Health Board Patient Travel will book travel tickets on public transport (train, plane, etc) when a patient is travelling a considerable distance from a remote location within the Health Board area, or when, as is not uncommon from Highland, it is necessary to be sent out of area for treatment within another Scottish Health Board area, or even south of the border. I myself have personal experience of being sent for surgery in Grampian, Tayside and to England, and I have also had to attend other medically-related appointments in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. Unfortunately, the helpful situation for public transport tickets is not mirrored in the arrangements for covering overnight expenses, or in the very low mileage rates that are paid when travel by motor car is involved. Even for a short out patient appointment, it is difficult or impossible for me to make it there and back to any of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow in a day return, even if the buses or trains are on time, which is frequently not the case. I have no choice but to travel by public transport, and with buses and trains increasingly bypassing or no longer stopping in the smaller communities these days, the limiting factor is almost always the short connecting bus trip to and from the nearest bigger centres. For our village, this can mean no suitable bus before 9.00am or after 6.00pm. But when an overnight stay is shown to be essential to allow attendance at a distant appointment, Patient Travel will reimburse only up to £50 a night, which will nowhere near cover the typical cost of even the most basic accomodation/subsistence in or around any of the major population centres. It would reduce the burden on the patient so much if Patient Travel had a system that allowed them to take on the responsibility for identifying and booking overnight accomodation and food, perhaps in the process being able to benefit from preferential prices that wouldn't be available to the patient making a one-off booking. Even better, if each of the Health Boards were routinely following the model of the "Patient Hotel" arranagment at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, where patients can stay overnight under an NHS roof but without needlessly blocking a medical bed. In the long run this must be more cost effective than having to go out into the commercial market for overnight accomodation. Putting aside the question of costs, in my experience, time and effort involved in just making the arrangements to be able to get to the door of a hospital or clinic and back home again is something that can add considerably to the burden and stress of any trip from a remote and rural location.
I don't see why I should be penalised financially because I am disabled and because the NHS does not provide services locally and I have to take a carer and provide for their accommodation, travel and meals costs, and my own, yet only get to claim a minimal amount. That means I simply cannot afford to see the healthcare professionals I need to see. I did a Subject Access Request under the DPA only to find a local Integrated Team lead cancelled my consultant appointment in London by lying that I needed a medical helicopter and a team of medics to accompany me to an outpatient appointment. I didn't, but NEVER got my appointment and this has never been corrected in my medical records so now stops me from seeing other consultants.😡😡😡😡😡😡
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