‘A tax on cancer patients’ - MP blasts Trust for introducing charges for overnight stays at Preston hospital

5 Feb 2024
Tim outside Westmorland General Hospital

Cumbrian MP Tim Farron has demanded health bosses rethink their decision to start charging cancer patients who stay overnight at Royal Preston Hospital because they cannot commute for their treatment.

Previously free, from Thursday (February 1st) Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust started charging patients £25 per night to stay at their Bowland House accommodation.

Tim has also written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Victoria Atkins, urging her to intervene.

Preston remains the closest hospital for patients in South Cumbria to travel for radiotherapy treatment, with Tim arguing that this decision further strengthens the case for a radiotherapy unit at Kendal’s Westmorland General Hospital.

In his letter to the Trust, Tim said: “It is bad enough that my constituents are forced to travel long distances to access cancer services at present, without having the added worry of how they can afford to stay over if they are not physically well enough to return home daily and feels like a tax on ill health, when people are possibly at their most vulnerable in their lives.

“I do hope you will reconsider this move which is, in my opinion, both unwelcome and ill judged at this time when many are struggling with a cost of living crisis and should not have the additional burden of options being closed to them as they simply can’t afford to stay over when they are already paying for petrol to travel to access live saving treatment.”