Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has today called on the Health Secretary to join him in urging Aberdeen Airport to improve facilities for isles patients.
Mr McArthur has previously met with management at Aberdeen Airport to press concerns about a lack of accessibility for patients travelling between Orkney and Aberdeen for hospital appointments. He has also taken up the issue with Loganair and NHS Orkney.
While the airport announced a £20 million redevelopment plan in 2016, Mr McArthur remains concerned at a lack of progress in better meeting the needs of isles passengers, who may be in need of additional privacy and/or comfort as a result of their hospital treatment. This follows complaints over a number of years by constituents directly affected.
In a parliamentary exchange, the Cabinet Secretary for Health confirmed to Mr McArthur that the Scottish Governments Charter of Patient's Rights and Responsibilities “sets out what can be expected from patient's accessing NHS services, including patient transport.” The Cabinet Secretary added that “patients can expect to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“The Aberdeen air service is a vital link in the delivery of specialist health services to constituents in Orkney and Shetland. Given the number of patients from the Northern Isles using the route on a daily basis, it cannot simply be looked at in the same way as other air services.
“I have been extremely concerned, therefore, to hear from many constituents over the years about their experience of travelling back from hospital treatment in Aberdeen. Too often when they get to the airport, they seem to be out of sight and out of mind, particularly if problems arise with delayed flights.
“I believe more can and should be done to meet the needs of this important group of passengers. In particular, I think that space should be made available to allow those who need a bit more privacy or comfort to be accommodated.
“While the Scottish Government patient charter is explicit that patients should be treated with dignity and respect when travelling for care, this does not always appear to be the case for some of my constituents.
“I welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s strong statement about the rights of patients being transferred to and from hospital. I hope therefore that she will be as eager as I am to see improvements in facilities available for Isles patients returning home via Aberdeen airport. On that basis, I have written to Shona Robison asking her to join me in pressing Aberdeen Airport to act urgently to addresses these concerns.”