South Lakes MP Tim Farron has warmly welcomed the news that health bosses have scrapped controversial plans to start charging patients who stay overnight at Royal Preston Hospital.
At the beginning of the month, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced they would start charging patients £25 per night to stay at their Bowland House accommodation.
The proposals would have particularly impacted cancer patients in South Cumbria, whose nearest radiotherapy centre is at Preston.
Tim wrote to leaders at the Trust, urging them to reconsider saying: “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.”
However in a letter from the Trust’s Chair and Chief Executive back to Tim, they say that “after a lot of feedback” from clinicians and stakeholders including Tim who were “concerned about patient experience and inequalities” they have decided to “waive the proposed charge for patients for the foreseeable future”.
The Trust confirmed that no patient has been charged for their stay to date and those with future booking have been advised that they will not need to pay.
Commenting this evening, Tim said: “I’m delighted that health bosses have decided to bin these awful plans which would have been a tax on ill health.
“The fact that they had originally decided to go ahead with charging for overnight stays does highlight the severe financial strains that have been put on our local health services thanks to years of neglect from the Conservative Government.
“I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who wrote to me and the Trust to make their views known – it’s another victory for community campaigning.”