Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Shetland patients to be sent on 12-hour ferry for treatment in Aberdeen

Post Thumbnail

Health chiefs on Shetland were under fire last night over plans to start sending patients on a 12-hour overnight ferry for treatment in Aberdeen.

The move aims to save NHS Shetland £1million a year by cutting the number of unwell islanders being put on hour-long flights if they have to make the trip to hospitals in the Granite City.

But it was immediately criticised by “very concerned” Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, as well as Shetland Islands Council convener Malcolm Bell and the airline Loganair.

The health board decided by six votes to four yesterday to tell patients to make the trip by ferry unless there was a specific clinical reason meaning they must travel by air.

The local NHS expects to spend £2.7million on patient travel in 2016/17 – 6% of its core budget – under a set-up whereby people are primarily transported by air.

But council chief Mr Bell, who is also a health board member, said he thought it was important to “treat the cause and not the symptom”.

“What about people who get released from hospital, go on the boat and end up spending 25 hours on the high seas?” he asked.

Questions have also been raised about allowing patients to book flights using the Scottish Government-funded Air Discount Scheme (ADS), which does not apply to businesses and public bodies.

Mr Scott, the Liberal Democrat MSP for the islands, said: “This proposal needs to be very carefully assessed both from patients’ perspective, the impact on Loganair and the impact on public money being used to provide ADS financial assistance for Shetlanders flying south.

“The NHS cannot act without recognising the wider Shetland perspective.”

Patients travelling by ferry would be given a cabin and, should they prefer to travel by air, can book themselves and claim back the fare up to the value of the ferry journey that the NHS would otherwise have paid for.

Exceptions will include children, pregnant women in their third trimester and those travelling for cancer treatment such as chemotherapy.

NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said: “While this decision has been difficult, it reflects the commitment of the board to take the steps necessary for balancing our budget, while maximising the proportion of that budget we spend directly on clinical care.”

He said work would continue to minimise the need for patients to travel at all, by offering more services locally and using video clinics.

Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles said it was “very disappointing” that NHS Shetland “has not engaged in the discussions between Loganair and NHS nationally” ahead of the renewal of its patient travel contract.

Mr Hinkles also suggested the “significant extra pressure” on the ADS budget meant it was “highly unlikely that there will be any cost saving to the public purse once the full implications of NHS Shetland’s actions have worked through the system”.

NHS patients account for around a quarter of passengers on Sumburgh-Aberdeen flights, but Mr Hinkles said it would be “premature to speculate” on whether it would cut the number of flights.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]