Published: 10/01/2001, Volume 112, No. 5787 Page 6

Isle of Wight Healthcare trust is to forward its bills to the Department of Health to make ministers aware of the additional costs it incurs, after a bid for an extra£3.2m funding to cover the 'island factor' was rejected.

Bills for emergency helicopter airlifts, ambulances taking patients to the mainland and the transport costs of bringing supplies and equipment on and off the island will all be forwarded to the DoH via South East regional office.

In addition, MP Andrew Turner is to be asked to raise a question in the House of Commons about the English/Scottish divide where Scottish islands receive subsidies to help with their costs, yet the Isle of Wight does not.

The request for funding to cover the excess costs of being an island was supported at health authority and regional level but the NHS technical advisory group said the island had failed to make a convincing case and it was no different from any other isolated area.

At a meeting of the trust board last week, it was agreed that the bill protest be mounted and a joint letter be sent with the primary care trust to the health secretary asking for the matter to be reconsidered.

Deputy chief executive Mark Price said that NHS suppliers were being asked to identify the additional costs for transport separately on invoices so the DoH could see the difficulties the trust faces.

Chief executive Graham Elderfield said: 'If we are not going to get any allowance for being an island, why should we meet the bills sent to us by other NHS bodies when we are not funded for it.

'Our case is logical, it makes sense and it would not set a precedent because we are the only island which has to run a district general hospital with full A&E services.'

Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and South East Hampshire health authority chief executive Penny Humphris said the HA had always recognised that there were additional costs incurred in running the health service on the island.

Ms Humphris said it was not acceptable that the trust should pay the cost of delivery levied by NHS organisations, such as blood supplies, when the NHS did not recognise the case for extra funding.

South East region director Ruth Carnall said she was broadly sympathetic to the case of the trust but recognised that the decision on special premiums had to be taken on a national basis and in a broader context.