Royal Preston Hospital: £25 accommodation fee for cancer patients axed

Royal Preston Hospital
The £25-per-night charge to stay at Bowland House was introduced on 1 February
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Controversial plans to charge cancer patients to stay in hospital accommodation during treatment have been scrapped.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust introduced a £25-a-night fee to stay at Bowland House, at the Royal Preston Hospital.

However, it has shelved plans due to "feedback" and said no-one was charged.

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, welcomed the move.

A statement from the trust said its charity committee was considering whether it could increase its contribution towards the cost of providing accommodation.

"No patient has been charged for their stay to date and those with future bookings have been advised that they will not need to pay, " the statement added.

The hospital's radiotherapy unit is the closest for patients in south Cumbria and they had been able to stay at the accommodation for free, because they face long journeys.

The trust said it had wanted to introduce the charge, from 1 February, because it did not receive funding for the accommodation running costs and wanted to protect it from closure.

'Awful plans'

Mr Farron said the trust had written to him to confirm it had "waivered" the plans due to "feedback from stakeholders and clinicians".

"I'm delighted that health bosses have decided to bin these awful plans which would have been a tax on ill health," he added.

He said the fact the trust had wanted to make charges highlighted the "severe financial strains" it was under.

Jane Reedy
Jane Reedy, pictured with husband Matt and daughter Tess, had to travel daily from Kendal to Preston for cancer treatment

Jane Reedy, from Kendal, had to travel to Preston for radiotherapy every day for five weeks, after she was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2016.

Although she did not stay at Bowland House, she said she was "delighted" with the U-turn.

"This can only amplify how passionate people are about supporting those facing a cancer journey, how many people are affected by this awful disease and the strength of those voices," she said.

"I still believe that the future has to be through providing more services to a greater number of people, Kendal desperately needs a radiotherapy unit.

"This could support many people in the south lakes and North Yorkshire, reducing journey times which contribute to the fatigue and challenge of treatment."

NHS England said a study showed it was "not a sustainable option" to open a radiotherapy facility in Kendal due to insufficient demand.

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