For many of us, the most contact we are likely to have with our healthcare providers is the contact we have through our family doctors and local hospital. For some of us though, we may require treatment off-island. This information will help you to understand how this process works and answer some of your questions. Once you have read the information, if you have a question that has not been answered, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is important to remember that when travelling off-island for any purpose you and your family should have travel insurance which covers you for health. The Office of the Committee for Health & Social Care (Health and Social Care) will only fund medical treatment when that treatment has been pre-approved and requested by us. If travelling as a companion to a patient who is being flown off as an emergency, you will also need to consider taking out travel insurance.
Off-island Care - What is it?
- There are some planned treatments (called elective care) that cannot be provided by the Princess Elizabeth Hospital. When this is the case the Medical Specialist Group (MSG) will refer you off-island to our main treatment centre, University Hospital Southampton (UHS). You may be referred to a different treatment centre depending on the type of treatment you need and a list of our different acute care treatment providers can be found below.
- The off island process for complex care, (care which covers mental health, learning disability, gender dysphoria and looked after children) is not covered by this section as this process varies by individual.
- There are two teams involved in off-island referrals. In relation to treatment costs, your referral is managed by the Off-Island & Visiting Consultants Team which is part of Health & Social Care. Off-island treatment is funded by general revenue. In relation to the travel costs associated with accessing treatment off island, this is handled by the Health Benefits team, which is part of Employment & Social Security (ESS). Travel costs are funded through social insurance contributions.
- Health Information Guernsey provides Health Travel Packs with information on Liaison Teams, the referral process, accommodation, transport and hospital services. For further information visit their Facebook page, Website, or call them on 01481 707470.
About acute treatment
- Acute treatment describes treatment that your MSG consultant recommends for you. In Guernsey, when you are sick you see your local GP, this service is paid for by you at the point at which it is provided. The States of Guernsey provide a £12.00 grant towards the cost of medical consultations with your GP. You can claim the grant by signing a form at the surgery and they will then deduct this amount from your bill. Your GP will decide if you need to see a specialist and if you do, will refer you to the relevant specialist at the MSG. The States of Guernsey has a contract with the MSG which means that unless you have chosen to be treated privately, or the treatment you require is not funded by Health and Social Care, the treatment you receive under the contract will be covered.
The process for off-island treatment
- If the treatment you need cannot be provided locally, the consultant you see at the MSG may refer you to our main provider hospital, University Hospital Southampton or another hospital which specialises in the treatment you need. The hospital you are referred to will be one which the Health and Social Care has a service contract with to provide treatment and care to Guernsey and Alderney residents. The main hospitals we use are:
- The Off Island Team
- The Off-Island team is based at Le Vauquiedor Office. The team screens the referrals to check the following:
- That the treatment being recommended is not available locally
- That we do routinely fund this type of treatment
- That we do contract and have an arrangement in place with the hospital the consultant is referring you to.
- Once the referral letter has been screened by the off-island team, it is sent to the relevant hospital who will book an appointment. You will receive an appointment letter directly from the hospital outlining the details of the appointment and including any other relevant information. Any queries raised on a referral are usually dealt with within 48 hours, but some do take longer. In some instances the MSG consultant may be asked to present a case for the requested treatment or drug to the Individual Funding Request panel and this is covered later on in this guide.
- The Off Island Team also:-
- Answers patient queries
- Tracks your referral through the system
- Administers and monitors all the contracts associated with getting care off-island
- Plan the visiting consultant services
- Fund some other costs associated with off-island treatment except travel costs which are funded by ESS.
- Accommodation is not funded by Health and Social Care unless you are required to attend hospital for extended treatment such as radiotherapy, or in instances where you may be required at hospital very early in the morning for an operation. Requests for accommodation need prior approval and you must make any requests via your MSG Consultant's Personal Assistant (PA).
- Once the hospital has booked your appointment, you will receive a letter confirming the date and time. When you receive this appointment letter, please call your consultant's medical secretary at the MSG and let them know this information. This is an important part of the process as the medical secretary needs this information to request funding for your travel and cost of appointment through the Travelling Allowance Grant administered by ESS.
The Travelling Allowance Grant (TAG)
- ESS administers the Travelling Allowance Grant (TAG) which covers the cost of transporting patients in Guernsey or Alderney to the UK when the necessary treatment is not available on-island. You are eligible for the TAG if you normally live in Guernsey or Alderney and have been assessed for the payment of contributions.
- Health and Social Care are responsible for the cost of approved treatments and any accommodation that you might require association with the course of this treatment.
- If you are a private patient, ESS may still be able to fund travel if the treatment that has been recommended by a medical practitioner is not available locally
- If medical treatment is available locally or the treatment is not supported, then a TAG cannot be paid.
The process for approving off-island travel
- Once advised of your appointment, the MSG will send a TAG form to the Health Benefits Team at ESS and to the Off-Island team to confirm that you have an appointment or need treatment which cannot be provided locally. Hospital outpatient appointments are normally scheduled at a time which makes it possible to travel to and from Guernsey/Alderney the same day. If the original appointment time does not make this possible or you have any concerns about this, you should contact the hospital to see the time of your appointment can be changed. If you don't want to change the time of your appointment you will need to meet the costs of any additional accommodation needs.
- Once a TAG has been approved, ESS Health Benefits will send a travel order to Travel Solutions (States of Guernsey contracted travel agent); taking into account the type of travel and flexibility required for inpatient or outpatient appointments. Rail or taxi will also be provided in the UK to enable you to attend your appointment (this transport is dependent on the destination hospital). ESS will write to you with instructions of the booking process.
- If you are an Alderney resident, you will need to provide confirmation of the medical appointment and complete a form at the Alderney States Office. The States Office will then issue an order to Aurigny for you to book travel. Accommodation for patients travelling from Alderney to Guernsey is not funded by either ESS or Health and Social Care.
Booking your travel
- Once you have received your letter from ESS Health Benefits you should contact Travel Solutions to book your travel. If additional travel is required for personal reasons, you will need to meet the additional cost. Travel Solutions need permission from ESS Health Benefits to approve any changes.
- Most people travel to their appointment by air, but if your treatment makes air travel difficult, ferry transfer can be arranged. However, if you choose to travel by boat, then accommodation costs incurred as a result of this will not be covered by Health and Social Care.
- If you have any questions regarding your travel you should contact ESS Health Benefits helpline on 732510.
By Emergency Charter
- If you are too unwell to travel on a scheduled flight the medical practitioner looking after you may recommend an emergency air charter. This will be arranged for you. Any person who accompanies you is advised to have travel health insurance or should take out insurance as soon as possible if they have travelled with you.
- If your MSG consultant believes you need someone to help you travel to your appointment (due to a specific medical reason) they will request this on the TAG form. Funding for escorts other than nurse escorts is means tested by ESS under the Travelling Expenses Assistance Scheme TEAS (see the Travelling Expenses Assistance Scheme section below). Therefore you (the patient) will need to provide details of income and expenditure before any escort travel assistance can be considered. If you do not qualify for financial assistance under the means test you will need to fund the accompanying escort's travel yourself. Special rates are available for companion travel and these can be arranged through Travel Solutions. Your travel companion must have their own travel insurance to go off-island. Medical costs incurred by anyone travelling off-island as an escort or for a holiday are not covered by Health and Social Care.
- Our partner hospitals know that Guernsey and Alderney residents have to travel by air to attend appointments, so in most cases appointments will be booked for the latter part of the morning if they are outpatient appointments. If you are going to be admitted to hospital and need to be there early in the morning, the Off-Island team will authorise the cost of overnight accommodation pre admission, or in the case of Southampton, the team will book accommodation on your behalf at Jury's Inn.
- When you are being discharged from the University Hospital Southampton, if you are fit for discharge but not fit to fly, the Channel Island Liaison Team at University Hospital Southampton or the Off-Island team will arrange for you to stay at Jurys Inn prior to travelling home.
- If you are deemed unfit to fly but fit to travel, you will need to book the next available ferry home which you can book through Condor. If accommodation is required whilst waiting for the next available boat this can be booked through the Liaison Team if you are at University Hospital Southampton or by the patient if you have received treatment at another provider. If you do not wish to travel by ferry, then you will need to fund your own additional nights' accommodation until you are deemed fit to fly.
- Currently, University Hospital Southampton provides treatment for most of our 4,000 annual off-island referrals. We therefore have an arrangement in place with Jurys Inn Hotel to accommodate our patients. All rooms are double rooms so can accommodate two people. If you are receiving radiotherapy, your breakfast and evening meals are paid for. There is no extra charge for the second person, but if you are accompanied by your husband, wife or partner, then they will have to pay for their meals and transport costs. Also, if your husband, wife or partner is intending to remain at the hotel whilst you remain in hospital, then this cost will need to be funded by them as the guest. Health and Social Care only pays accommodation costs when the patient requires accommodation.
- Alternative accommodation for family members or friends of specific patient groups needing treatment at University Hospital Southampton is available as follows:
- Ronald MacDonald House - provides free 'home from home' accommodation for families with children in hospital.
- Meller House - Meller House provides comfortable and friendly accommodation solely for the relatives of patients who would like to stay closer to the hospital in order to avoid long journeys.
- Heartbeat House - offers free accommodation to family and friends for patients who are admitted to the Wessex Cardiac Centre at university Hospital Southampton.
- Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation - The Burrow. Or you can contact via email, Ali@ppbf.org.gg or Tel: 07781 160080.
- If you are not staying at the Jurys Inn Hotel Southampton, then you must book your own accommodation and send your receipts to the Off-Island team for refunding. Accommodation will only be refunded where required as outlined above. We do not refund accommodation to patients who may choose to travel earlier in the event of avoiding potential bad weather.
- Sometimes you will need treatment at a hospital where we do not have an arrangement with a local hotel. These hospitals have their own accommodation or local hotels with which they have arrangements. Please follow the links below:
- Guys & St Thomas - http://www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk/Home.aspx
- Royal Devon and Exeter - http://www.rdehospital.nhs.uk/default.html
- Salisbury Hospital - http://www.salisbury.nhs.uk/Pages/home.aspx
- Hotel accommodation costs are limited to £110 per night for accommodation in London and £82 per night for accommodation elsewhere in the UK. You will be refunded the amount you have paid for your accommodation. HSC does not refund food costs.
- All receipts should be sent to the Off-Island team where they are checked and processed for payment - Off-Island & Visiting Consultant Service, Le Vauquiedor Office, Health and Social Care, Rue Mignot, St Andrews, Guernsey, GY6 8TW.
- If you are unsure about what you are entitled to or have any questions, please contact a member of the Off-Island team on telephone number - 725241 ext 4711.
Travelling Expenses Assistance Scheme (TEAS)
- TEAS is a means tested benefit administered by ESS. TEAS may help towards the cost of:-
- non-medical escorts (where a medical reason for the need of an escort has been established); or
- accommodation costs and other exceptional expenses that would otherwise have to be met by the patient and would cause financial hardship.
- TEAS is based on the patient's financial circumstances. If you would like more information about the means test or want to talk to a member of the team about making a claim, please contact the ESS Health Benefits helpline on 732510.
Transport within the UK
- Southampton University Hospital
- When you travel to Southampton, a minibus shuttle service is provided by Handicabs. The driver will wait in the arrival hall, please look out for the Handicabs sign.
- Handicabs will take you from the airport to University Hospital Southampton and back, but you will need to make arrangements for your return journey by contacting Handicabs on 02380 615222.
- The available return shuttle times are: - 13.00, 15.30, 18.00
- If you're travelling with hold luggage please inform Travel Solutions at time of booking
- ESS will only pay for a return journey to the hospital.
- Please let Travel Solutions know if anyone is travelling with you. This is to ensure a place on the minibus. Handicabs will charge you for any unknown extra passengers.
- Oncology Patients
- Door 2 Door taxis currently provide transfers between Jury's Inn and Southampton Hospital for people undergoing radiotherapy treatment. These taxis can be booked through the reception at Jury's Inn. Southampton Oncology Centre will arrange the journey back to Jurys Inn.
- For general transport, you need to pay for this yourself. At Southampton you can book taxis through reception at Jurys Inn.
- If you are at University Hospital Southampton you can use the free telephone on the wall next to Marks & Spencers at the main entrance to contact the taxi service. The pick up point for these taxis is just outside the main entrance.
- There is a regular bus service between the hospital and Jurys Inn. The No. 17 bus can be caught from Brunswick Place, Southampton City Center, Art Gallery on Commercial Road to University Hospital Southampton. Please check the journey and route using the website below - My Journey.
- If you are attending one of the other hospitals, the hospital website will guide you to accommodation in the area which does not require a taxi service, but if you would like to double check if you are able to claim, please call the Off-Island team on 725241 ext. 4711.
- If you are a private patient, you will be responsible for the costs of all associated consultations, treatment and care. However, ESS may be able to make a contribution towards your travel costs if the treatment has been recommended by a medical practitioner and is not available locally. Health and Social Care will not pay the costs of any accommodation for private patients. It is recommended that you check with your insurance company to gain assurance that they will pick up the costs of accommodation.