A new scheme to reduce the cost of foot passenger travel on Hovertravel’s passenger services for patients attending NHS appointments on the mainland started on the 1st April.
This has been developed by Hovertravel in association with NHS Isle of Wight and Stagecoach. It will provide patients attending NHS appointments at mainland hospitals, and one person travelling with them, with a discounted return fare (valid for 90 days) of £9.00 per person between Ryde and Southsea and a free connection (saving £2.40 per person) using the HoverBus from Southsea Esplanade to the bus terminus at The Hard, Portsmouth; a through ticket to St. Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth with Stagecoach bus 21 costing £11.40; or a through ticket to Queen Alexandra (QA) Hospital, Cosham with Stagecoach bus 20 costing £12.60
Patients attending outpatient appointments and having inpatient treatment at hospitals in Portsmouth could benefit from the scheme as well as those who travel further afield for their treatment.
Neil Chapman, Hovertravel Managing Director said: “We recognise that when someone is ill the last thing they want to think about is whether they can afford the cost of getting to the mainland. Our contribution to the Island is well known and we’re keen to support Islanders at a time of need. We’re pleased to be able to offer this discount to Islanders as part of our contribution to Island life and the health and wellbeing of Islanders.”
The discount fare will apply to all journeys between Ryde and Portsmouth and use of the HoverBus. For journeys to St. Mary’s, Portsmouth or Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham a through ticket (combo) with Stagecoach can be booked. The hospital appointment card or letter must be presented at the ticket office when tickets are purchased but there are no other forms to be completed by the patient.
Mr Chapman continued: “We’re offering a priority boarding system particularly at times of peak travel and events on the Island (e.g. Festival and Bestival). Our helpful staff will assist patients on and off the hovercraft. The scheme will also cover a companion travelling with the patient and for situations where the patient is a child, both parents will be able to travel under the scheme. This scheme provides an open return and is valid for 90days. – on period returns this offers savings of approximately 50% plus the bus savings.”
Welcoming the scheme Andrew Turner, the Island’s MP said: “I congratulate Hovertravel and NHS Isle of Wight on this scheme which I know has taken some hard work to achieve. As was recognised in the OFT report Hovertravel is one of several vital lifelines for Islanders. This scheme recognises the importance of that lifeline to patients and their carers and all three ferry companies have now developed schemes giving patients preferential fares. This is a welcome development resulting from my submission to the OFT which was supported by thousands of Islanders.”
Hovertravel will share some information with NHS Isle of Wight on a sample basis to audit the scheme and guard against fraudulent use. At present bookings cannot be made on line. A full list of terms and conditions will be available online. Discounts will not be available on a retrospective basis.
“We have worked with Hovertravel over recent weeks to develop this scheme;” says NHS Isle of Wight Executive Director Mark Price. Continuing Mark said: “We are grateful to Hovertravel for working closely with us and demonstrating a strong commitment to developing the scheme. We know, particularly for those patients who have to visit the mainland for a series of hospital appointments, that the cost can be a source of concern on top of dealing with the illness and treatment. This is a welcome development which will benefit many patients and their families on the Island.”