• Isle of Wight MP refreshes calls for additional healthcare funding for island 
  • Says severance from mainland results in “£11m additional healthcare costs per year”
  • Recruitment and management issues contributing to poor staff morale, according to MP 

Isle of Wight’s MP has refreshed calls for extra funding for the island’s healthcare system, warning morale at the trust was “the bottom of the charts”.

During a Parliamentary debate on the NHS funding bill on Monday, Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely raised concerns over the significant costs required to fund the Island’s healthcare services compared to the mainland.

The Conservative MP has requested a meeting with health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, to discuss the increase in serious incidents recorded at the trust , as reported in HSJ last week.

In a letter to trust bosses Mr Seely said he believes the spike in incidents is partially down to “a lack of additional funding which some other islands in the UK receive”, according to local media. 

During Monday’s debate, Mr Seely said there is significant evidence to show the island’s “severance” from the mainland results in an estimated £11m additional healthcare costs per year.

The trust receives fewer tariffs from commissioners compared to other areas on the mainland with a district general hospital due to the island’s small population, he explained.

There is also the additional pressure of transport costs for patients who need to travel to the mainland for planned appointments — amounting to an estimated £560,000 a year — which is currently subsidised by the local authority and ferry companies. 

Speaking in Parliament, he said: “On the Isle of Wight we have a district general hospital — I thank all the staff who work there, they do a great job sometimes in difficult circumstances — but we have only got half the population base of district general hospitals, so we do not get the same tariffs.

“As a result of that everything costs more, it is very difficult to get the same efficiencies and economies of scale.”

In October, Mr Seely wrote to Boris Johnson presenting a case for an “Island Deal”, which would result in more government funding for the island, including £10.9m for healthcare.

The deal includes a £5 cap per journey on travel for patients who are required to travel to the mainland for treatment but are not entitled to free NHS travel.

Mr Johnson has assured Mr Seely he will get a deal for the island. However, when this will happen remains unclear.

In Parliament, Mr Seely raised further concerns over ongoing recruitment and management issues faced by the island — primarily due to its location — which in turn is affecting staff morale.

He added: “Sadly, our staff morale tends to be at the bottom of the NHS staff morale charts, and we have issues about recruitment, somewhat because we are an island, and that feeds into morale issues and the use of locums, and there is less time for patient treatment.”

IOW Trust is the country’s only fully integrated trust, with acute services operating from St Mary’s Hospital in Newport. The trust was placed in special measures in April 2017 after it was rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission due to “significant” concerns over patient safety. It was upgraded to “requires improvement” in September 2019 but it remains in special measures.