‘It is all getting too much and the stress keeps building up’ are the words of an Isle of Wight woman who has to frequently travel to the mainland with her partner for hospital treatment.
This article first appeared in the Island Echo here – https://www.islandecho.co.uk/islander-speaks-out-about-stress-of-travelling-to-the-mainland-for-treatment/
Speaking to the Isle of Wight Council’s health and social care scrutiny committee, Islander Paula told members about the troubles encountered by her partner Chris, and herself, as they travelled to the mainland for treatment.
Chris has suffered with chronic kidney failure for 4 years and is now on dialysis 3 or 4 times a day while being under the care of the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth for scans and treatments. Paula said she tries to look after Chris the best she can as he is unable to be put on the transplant list.
Speaking to the committee, Paula said:
“Chris suffers from anxiety a lot on the ferry, it is not nice what he goes through. With Wightlink, it has been very difficult, he feels very aware of his condition.”
The fares, she said, were astronomical, with very little financial help, and although it is more comfortable for Chris to travel by car, it was not financially viable to do so in the long term. Even if they did cross by car, Chris would not be able to stay in the vehicle for the full crossing.
In March, Paula said Chris had a relapse, but because St Mary’s Hospital in Newport doesn’t have the facilities for Chris’s type of dialysis treatment, he had to be taken to Portsmouth by ambulance. However, he had to wait 2 days, before there was space for an ambulance on the ferry, she said, and Chris was left waiting in a corridor in St Mary’s.
“We are both in our late 60s, it is all getting too much and this Wightlink business is just building up stress, the money side of it, waiting for the ferries but then they change the times.”
Chris has had to leave treatment early, Paula said, in the winter so they would not miss the last Fast Cat home.
Moving forward, Paula said she would like to see somewhere on the ferries and passenger services for ill patients, a quiet zone with accessible toilets so those undergoing treatment can feel comfortable and relaxed.
Councillor Clare Mosdell, the Isle of Wight Council’s former cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said discounts were not helpful when the prices of ferries fluctuate during peak seasons.
She said there needs to be a set, reasonable amount people are charged all year round, so they can afford to make the journey and don’t end up spending their life savings just to have a treatment which if you lived on the mainland wouldn’t have the same cost attached.
Darren Cattell, from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said it was a longstanding issue but some progress has been made, with a commitment from each of the ferry operators to meet with representatives of patient groups, Healthwatch Isle of Wight and other statutory bodies.