£5 million to help families be there for children in hospital.
A new fund has been launched 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.”
Associate Director of Policy, Influencing and Voice at the charity Young Lives vs Cancer Helen Gravestock said:
“When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family’s world turns upside down. Parents often have to stop working, children can be taken out of school and suddenly they have to travel miles for life-saving treatment. The last thing they should be worrying about is how to afford the petrol to be by their child’s bedside.
“On average, families spend an extra £600 every month while their child is having cancer treatment.
“The Young Patients Family Fund will be very much welcomed by children and young people with cancer and their families. Young Lives vs Cancer looks forward to working with colleagues in Scotland to ensure that all eligible families can benefit from it.”
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.”
Bliss Scotland Chief Executive, Caroline Lee-Davey, said:
“This new fund will now mean that parents of premature and sick babies who need hospital care once their neonatal treatment is over will continue to be supported throughout their hospital journey.
“We will continue to work with the Scottish Government to ensure the Fund meets the needs of families and will keep campaigning for the other UK nations to introduce similar support for families with a baby in neonatal care.”
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.