The health minister has said he wants to review the full patient transfer process that sees people sent off-island for treatment.
Claire Ferreira is a mother of six and has had to leave the island eight to 10 times this year alone using the patient transfer programme.
This is because her husband has had to undergo heart surgery, her 14-year-old son had to have an operation on his knee at Alder Hey, and two of her children have needed to go to Alder Hey for autism diagnosis at St Helens.
She says that the £50 per person per day that is provided to people going across isn’t enough.
The 37-year-old said: ‘If we don’t have the facilities in the island to treat patients then we should be funding for them to go where they need to.
‘At the beginning of the year I went about five times in eight weeks.
‘My husband went over in February, we all went over in March, I went away with my son in August for surgery, and then we went away last week, and we’re going next month too.
‘In August, when my son went away I couldn’t abandon all the children with my husband as he’d had major heart surgery.
‘You’re given £50 a day expenses to stay overnight but getting a hotel for someone under £50 is unheard of.
‘We had to go to St Helens and go the night before because the plane was fully booked. The nearest hotel was £224, but if I want a hotel a little further out I have to foot the cost of the taxis.
‘Of course, when you’re over there, you’re eating out as well.
‘This one we’ve just done, they’d booked us into a hotel but we then had to find somewhere to eat.
‘The meal that night was about £20 and breakfast the next morning is £10 each, then you’ve got lunch again.
‘Once you’re done at the hospital you go back to the airport and the airport food is not cheap.
‘It just gets beyond a joke.
‘I haven’t got £224 for one night at a hotel. Eventually someone came back to me and said “because it’s such short notice we’ll book everything for you”, but I thought if you’ve got the availability to do this, why aren’t we being told?’
She explained that the rising cost of living was having its own impact, adding: ‘I put a post up about this on a Facebook group called Isle of Man patient transfers and one lady said “it’s costing me £500+ every time I go away and I’m happy to pay it” but then you have lots of people saying they can’t afford it.
‘The cost of living for us personally has gone through the roof.
‘Before lockdown started we’d gotten planning permission to do an extension on our house to get a sensory room and spare bedrooms and living area so our kids have all got space.
‘At the first lockdown our quote was about £85,000 and now we’re looking at £200,000.
‘Things have changed massively over the last 24 months.’
Mr Callister responded to the concern, explaining that £74 is provided per person per night in London or people can claim up to £50 per person in the rest of the UK.
‘As the cost of living crisis starts to affect more and more people we do maybe need to look at that particular system and help people if they are unable to pay for the cost up front,’ he said.
‘That is a difficult conversation but I have already raised that question with Manx Care because they are responsible for the operational side.
‘Within our department plan, we did say we are going to look at the current policy around patient transfer by August 2023.
‘As the new minister for health and social care, I would like to bring that forward if it’s possible because I would like to understand the full patient transfer experience for those that have to go off island for treatment to see if we can align things better in the future.
‘I would like the service to be reviewed and for everything, where possible, to align, so when people are receiving an appointment from the UK they are in line with people able to access the best opportunities for flights and then the connection through.
‘That will also save money, time and additional anguish for those people needing to use the service.’
The health minister encouraged people to visit the government website and go to the dedicated page for patient transfers ‘which gives all the details on patient transfers.’