Red Funnel launch new healthcare travel scheme

22-11-2010 A new scheme to reduce the cost of foot passenger travel on Red Funnel’s passenger services for patients attending NHS funded NHS hospital appointments on the mainland starts today, 22nd November 2010.

This has been developed by Red Funnel in association with NHS Isle of Wight. It will provide patients attending NHS appointments at NHS hospitals in Southampton, and one person travelling with them, with a discounted return fare of £7.50 per person between East/West Cowes and Southampton.

Up to 14,000 patients who attend outpatient appointments and have inpatient treatment at NHS hospitals in Southampton could benefit from the scheme.

James Fulford, Red Funnel Chief Executive said: “Red Funnel has been serving the Island since 1861 and 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 getting to the mainland. 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 discount fare will apply on all journeys from 0845 or earlier if patients can prove they have an earlier appointment time.   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 Fulford continued: “This scheme will help many people who are not covered by other schemes but it is not intended to replace those other schemes. The scheme will also cover a companion travelling with the patient. For situations where the patient is a child, both parents will be able to travel under the scheme.”   

Individuals making bookings under the scheme will need to complete a form (available at the Ticket Offices or downloadable from the Red Funnel website) providing Red Funnel with simple information about the patient. Red Funnel 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. Discounts will not be available on a retrospective basis.

Those attending appointments for radiotherapy should still claim a refund of their fares from Isle of Wight Council. Those who are entitled to reclaim their fares under the current national NHS travel costs scheme, such as those on income support or other qualifying benefits, should also continue to do that. More information about the national scheme can be found at http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/healthcosts/pages/travelcosts.aspx.

“We have worked with Red Funnel over recent weeks to develop this scheme;” says NHS Isle of Wight Executive Director Mark Price. Continuing Mark said: “Our own Patient Council have provided a patient perspective which has helped to shape the final arrangements.   We are grateful to Red Funnel 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 a welcome development which will benefit many patients and their families on the Island.”

Chairman of NHS Isle of Wight’s Patient Council, Mike Carr, said: “This is an important development for patients.  Whilst the NHS is able to support many health services on the Island it is inevitable that patients will need to travel to the mainland for some specialist treatments. Support like this from Red Funnel helps reduce the worries of patients and their carers about the financial costs of getting treatment.”

 
Further information can be found at www.redfunnel.co.uk/healthcarediscount.