AN annual fund of £60,000 will be granted to the NHS by the Isle of Wight Council to help fund cross-Solent patient transport.

Previously the council operated a joint scheme with the trust which was only open to patients travelling for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and dialysis.

Last night the Isle of Wight cabinet voted unanimously to continue funding the scheme.

Now the money will be granted directly to the local NHS trust, which will have a greater freedom to use it for more conditions and treatment.

Under currently eligibility criteria, a patient with cancer travelling for radiotherapy could reclaim their costs, but someone travelling for immunotherapy could not.

Patients with other long-term illnesses have also been unable to reclaim the costs.

The council undertook a consultation, in partnership with Healthwatch Isle of Wight, that showed 78 per cent of residents believed the scheme should continue.

One person said: “I did not complete my radiotherapy as I couldn’t afford to. To end this service will result in some untimely deaths. Possibly even my own.”

Speaking at last night’s cabinet meeting, member for adult social care, Cllr Clare Mosdell, said: “This public consultation has touched a much deeper level of concern among residents.

“Our scheme amounts to only £60,000 but we know our residents spend a far greater amount from their own pockets on travel.

“I need to be frank. I am deeply concerned the scheme as currently penned is now out of date and partial.

“Not withstanding the fact this council has no statutory duties to fund cross-Solent patient travel, I find it hard to justify why the cross-Solent can be used by patients needing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and renal dialysis, but not by patients who have to attend medical appoints on the mainland for significant neurological issues.”

The money will now be used at the local NHS trust’s discretion.

All three cross-Solent operators offer discounts to patients travelling for medical appointments, outside of the scheme.