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Hebrides News



Western Isles health board is changing the way assesses the need for an escort to accompany a patients for mainland hospital travel.


The health authority says there is no alteration to the criteria for approving a funded escort.


However, the decision will now be made by the NHS Western Isles medical director, Angus McKellar, with advice from GPs, rather than by individual surgeries.


Dr McKellar said the changes will mean that those “who do not meet the criteria will not receive NHS funding for an escort.”


He said: “We understand and acknowledge that in some cases, this will be disappointing. However, there is a limited budget for patient travel, which is under significant pressure, and we must ensure that the money available is spent appropriately.”


Dr McKellar said until now, GP practices made the decision to approve or reject funding for patient escorts with a “significant variation” between surgeries.


Under the new process GPs will provide clinical information regarding escort requests and the decision as to whether or not a funded escort is approved is made via Dr McKellar’s office.


The new system has been piloted in Langabhat and Broadbay practices and initial feedback is said to be “positive.”


The system will be rolled out to the three remaining GP practices in Lewis and Harris in April.


It is intended to implement the new process in the Uists and Barra in July.


“It is important to stress that, where escorts are clinically required, we will continue to fund them in line with our policy,” said Dr McKellar.


NHS Western Isles patient travel cost about £31 million over the last 10 years.


Small percentage savings where escorts are not required could result in “significant amounts of money being reinvested back into patient care,” said the board.



Changes to patient escort funding arrangements

28 March 2018