Pressure continued to build on the Health & Social Care Committee yesterday as several States members, including two cancer patients, pressed committee president Al Brouard in the States over its change in charging policy.
And Nikita Le Prevost, 20, a trust administrator, launched a petition online on Tuesday night and said while she knew it would gather support, she did not expect it to take off so quickly. Within 15 hours there were 1,000 signatures.
‘My mum passed away from cancer three years ago and she would often go to A&E for out-of-hours care,’ she said.
‘I’ve seen first hand how out-of-hours care works, and the comfort and reassurance of just knowing that you can get pain relief or other treatments at any time. I hope that the deputies supporting this decision will take a step back and rethink their position.
‘It is unfair that these patients have to go through the stress of an illness that they didn’t choose to have, and now may not be able to access the care and treatment they need.’
Miss Le Prevost said she understood HSC’s intention to introduce more fairness in charging, but echoed the views of Deputy Peter Roffey in that ‘levelling down’ was not the way to achieve it.
She also agreed with comments made in the States yesterday by cancer patient Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, who raised concerns about patients being unable to work being hit with charges at a vulnerable time.
‘Some won’t get the care they need because they will have to factor in money, especially in a cost-of-living crisis, and costs at the hospital are already high for diagnoses and treatments.’
She said she was grateful for the support.
‘It’s reassuring seeing everyone on the petition sharing their stories of relatives who have had cancer and used out-of-hours services.’
Deputy Brouard explained in the States that the committee had decided to waive attendance charges – typically between £70 and £190 – for all patients but to make all patients pay the fee for treatment.
Previously cancer patients paid nothing for A&E treatment, while other patients of life-limiting illnesses did.
Deputy Brouard said that no other illness group had been asking to change the charging system before it introduced the new policy.
‘We are trying to put a level of equity into the system, we are trying to make it fairer,’ he said.
Deputy Brouard said that A&E services cost the States about £4.5m. a year, and it received about half of that cost back in fees and charges.
The petition can be found here