Shetland MSP Tavish Scott will tomorrow seek to question First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over the changes to NHS Shetland’s travel policy announced earlier this week.
The changes will see most patients travelling to Aberdeen for appointments or treatment use the overnight ferry rather than travelling by plane. While some exemptions will be put in place, concerns have been raised about the impact of the policy on the welfare of patients and their families.
Tavish hopes to raise the issue during constituency questions at First Minister’s Question Time tomorrow (Thursday) from 12noon.
Commenting, Tavish said:
“I have already been contacted by many Shetlanders concerned about how this change will affect them. Not everyone will be able to wait for their flight costs to be reimbursed, effectively forcing them to accept they must travel for 24 hours – at least – just to get to their appointments and home again. Nor will some people be able to pay the difference between sea and air. People, especially older folk are very worried. Some have been close to tears on the phone today.
“I hope the First Minister will take this issue seriously. I want a reversal on this policy and the First Minister can do that as the Board are all her appointments. It is also unacceptable that this policy has been introduced without any formal negotiation with Loganair to see if money can be saved. The NHS faces financial pressures but they should explore with Loganair what can be done first."