A new fund has been launched by the Scottish Government to help families with the costs of visiting and providing essential care for their children in hospital. The Young Patients Family Fund will support the parents and siblings of young inpatients by covering expenses for travel, food and overnight accommodation where necessary.
Initial investment of £5 million has been set aside for the fund, although actual spend will depend on demand. Public Health Minister Maree Todd launched the fund at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh, where she met with Deborah Robertson whose 10-year-old son Zak is an inpatient receiving treatment for Cystic Fibrosis.
Ms Todd said: “When a hospital stay is necessary, families want to focus on the health and wellbeing of their child, without the worry of the financial costs around being there for them. This fund will provide support when it is most needed, and is an extension of our Neonatal Expenses Fund, which covers costs for the parents of sick or premature newborn babies. The Young Patients Family Fund extends the support to cover the families of all inpatients from birth up to the age of 18.”
NHS Lothian’s Service Director for Women’s and Children’s Services Allister Short, said: “When a child or young person requires a stay in hospital, it can be a really challenging time for them and their family, and anything that helps to reduce this stress is a really welcome step. This new fund really will make a big difference for families not just here in Lothian, but across Scotland.”
Commenting on the new fund, Helen Forrest, Chief Executive of Children’s Health Scotland said: “Children’s Health Scotland welcomes the launch of this new fund that has been designed to help families with the costs of visiting and providing essential care for their children in hospital. It has been introduced following concerns raised by parents of children who received regular hospital treatment and struggled to afford the cost of accommodation, travel, and food whilst away from home. Spending time at hospital can be a really worrying time for young patients and their families/carers. Having the support of loved ones during hospital treatment can improve health outcomes for children and young people and we know this fund will make a real difference to families across Scotland.”
The Scottish Government committed to establishing a Young Patients Family Fund (YPFF) within the first 100 days of the current administration. Further information on the YPFF, and how to apply, can be found here.
The YPFF has merged with the existing Neonatal Expenses Fund (NEF) to create a single unified fund. The NEF was designed to help parents of premature and sick newborn babies to offset the cost of travelling to and from hospital during the early days of their baby’s life. The YPFF now covers children from birth to 18 who are receiving inpatient care, and will cover costs for their parents, anyone with parental responsibility, and siblings under 18.
Claims for travel costs associated with outpatient visits can still be made through the NHS Patient Travel Reimbursement Scheme. This scheme allows children up to the age of 16 (or up to 19 if in full-time education) to apply to have their own travel costs and those of an escort (such as parent/carer) covered when attending outpatient appointments.